Nigerian football icon Stephen Okechukwu Keshi died suddenly in the early hours of Wednesday in Benin City, Edo state, we can report.
The former international football player and coach had lost his wife of 33 years, Kate, last year after a prolonged battle with cancer.
TheCable confirmed his death from a member of his family as well as one of his close associates.
“He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife,” a friend said.
He is survived by four children and his mother.
Keshi, the only Nigerian coach to have won the Africa Cup of Nations, achieved a rare feat in 2013 by becoming only the second person to win the trophy both as a player and a coach.
The only other person to have achieved the feat is Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary.
Keshi, a product of St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Lagos, started his playing career at a very young age at ACB Football Club, and later played for New Nigeria Bank, Stade d’Abidjan, Africa Sports, Lokeren, Anderlecht, RC Strasbourg, and a host of other clubs.
He represented Nigeria from 1982, at age 20, till 1994, most of the time captaining the Super Eagles and scoring vital goals from his position as a central defender.
He also coached Togo and Nigeria at the World Cup, as well as Mali.
Keshi, nicknamed the “Big Boss” for his leadership skills, is the fifth member of the all-conquering 1994 team to die, following Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare.