“Our son, brother, father, father-in-law, brother-in-law, has gone to
be with his wife of 35 years (Nkem ), Mrs. Kate Keshi, who passed on on
the 9th December 2015.
“Since her death, Keshi has been in mourning. He came back to Nigeria to be with her. He had planned to fly back today Wednesday, before he suffered a cardiac arrest. He has found rest," concluded the statement.
The Big Boss, as he was fondly called, made his first appearance for the Super Eagles in 1981 at age 20 and the central defender retired in 1994 after picking up 64 caps and nine goals as he captained Nigeria to win the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations as well as their first appearance at the World Cup in the USA.
As coach, he helped tiny Togo reach the 2006 World Cup in Germany
before he was sacked and replaced with German Otto Pfister, few months
to the tournament. He also handled Mali which he took to the 2010 Afcon
He led the Super Eagles side to success at Afcon 2013 where they won
after 19 years. He managed the side to the Fifa Confederation Cup 2013
and 2014 Fifa World Cup and became the African coach to reach the knock
out stage where they fell to France in the Round of 16.
However, his side failed to qualify for the 2015 Afcon which led to
his third and final disengagement by the Nigeria Football Federation
after a long and fractious relationship.
Keshi was the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of
Nations and second African to win the trophy both as a player and a
He started out with St. Finbarr’s College, Lagos and featured for
domestic club sides ACB Football Club and New Nigeria Bank before
leading a generation of Nigerian footballers abroad when he went to Cote
d’Ivoire’s Stade d’Abidjan and Africa Sports. He then made his way on
to Belgium where he played for Lokeren, Anderlecht, RC Strasbourg, among
His sad passing brings to five the number of former players in the
‘Golden Generation’ of Nigerian football to die. Among the triumphant
Super Eagles squad of 1994, Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini
and Wilfred Agbonavbare have all died.
Keshi is survived by four children and his aged mother.