“When he handed to me the captain’s armband, he looked at me and said ‘This is the beginning of greater things that will happen in future’. For me, that was an anointing and to show how much he believed in me.” said ex-Everton star and Super Eagles assistant coach, Joseph Yobo.
“His legacy is always going to stay forever for what he has done for football. Regardless of how we look at it, Keshi is a symbol of Nigerian football,” he told Goal.com
Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi popularly called the “Big Boss” or “Captain Fantastic” is a former Nigerian football international and Manager.
After a glittering football career that saw him represent ACB Lagos, Africa Sports, Lokeren, Anderlecht , RC Strasbourg and Sacramento Scorpions and ultimately captained Nigeria to 1994 Afcon triumph, Keshi went into administration.
He helped Togo qualify for the 2006 World Cup, led Mali to the 2010 AFCON in Angola before taking over as Super Eagles’ permanent boss in 2011. He led the National side to a third AFCON triumph in South Africa 2013.
The former Super Eagles captain died on June 7, 2016, after suffering a heart attack at the age of 54. Four years after his demise, the football community joins family and friends to pay tribute to the former AFCON winning coach.
The Nigerian Football Federation led in paying tribute to their former employee
“Today we remember former Super Eagle captain and coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi. Big Boss we miss you, continue to rest in the Lord’s bosom” it read on their official Twitter page.
Former Super Eagle coach and teammate Sunday Oliseh wrote “Four years ago today (7th June 2016) we lost one of Africa’s greatest legend, Stephen Keshi. AFCON winning captain player & coach, qualified Togo & Nigeria to world cups, second round 2014 world cup coach & an exceptional leader. Let’s celebrate this great man. ‘Coachitto Skippo’ we miss you. Rest in peace.”
Akwa United boss Kennedy Boboye also took to his social media to pay tribute to the legend.
He wrote : “Legends don’t die. Keep resting Stephen Keshi. Thank you for all the great memories. We’ll always love you.”
Super Eagles and Leganes centre-back Kenneth Omeruo who made his debut under him also paid tribute to former Mali gaffer “You gave me an opportunity at a very young age even when I wasn’t expecting it. I was content with just making the squad and you never asked for anything in return.”
While his co-center back at the 2013 AFCON triumph Godfrey Obaobona wrote on Twitter “Thank you Big Boss for believing in me and granting me that chance to fulfill my dreams of representing my fatherland. You’re gone but not forgotten”
Ivorian Legend, Didier Drogba also pay his tribute “Today we remember you Captain Keshi”.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) also join the football community in paying their tribute.
“Today we remember Captain Fantastic, Stephen Keshi, who left our world on this sad day four years ago. In 2013 Keshi became the second person to win the African Cup Of Nation title as player (1994) and coach, when he led the Super Eagle to their third trophy in South Africa”.
While the football governing body, FIFA wrote: “Stephen Keshi led the Super Eagle to Africa Cup of Nations glory as player & coach, & was the first African coach to qualify two African nations for the world cup. We sadly lost a legend on this day in 2016”.
Keshi set a record in African football by being the first African coach to qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) for the World Cup Finals in 2005 and in 2013. And became the second player to win the AFCON as a player (1994) and coach (2013) after Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary.