By John Egbokhan
Even in death, former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi continues to flicker like a candle in the wind as the coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG) Joseph Evah has paid a glowing tribute to the deceased who was yesterday laid to rest in his Ilah country home in Delta State.
Speaking as Keshi was being interred amidst scenes of weeping and mourning in the presence of top football administrators and former teammates at the USA 1994 World Cup, Evah said Keshi’s place in the sands of time in Nigerian sporting folklore was incontrovertible given his roles as a former captain and ex-coach of the senior national team.
“Keshi was the first captain of the Eagles to the World Cup in USA 1994. He led the team to the second round, where they lost to Italy in painful circumstances. Their loss was painful because they were almost minutes away from reaching the quarter-final but ill-experience cost them big in that match.
“That team remain the best Eagles side of all time and the fact that Keshi was the captain showed the quality in the former New Nigerian Bank of Benin defender. He was a true leader, a natural leader, an outspoken player, who was not afraid of baring his mind no matter whose ox was gored.
“Keshi was not only a leader on the pitch but also on the bench as evidenced when he ventured into coaching, qualifying Togo for the World Cup and winning the Africa Cup of Nations with the Eagles in 2013 and qualifying the same team to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. His records can never be blemished because he was an achiever in all sense of the world”, added Evah, who is the President of the Nigeria Rolling and Skating Federation.
As a mark of honour for Keshi, Evah recently led a members of the sports federation to pay their last respects to the Ilah-born football star, where a condolence register was opened in the deceased memory.
Speaking during the emotional event held at the National Stadium in Lagos, Evah said Keshi’s departure has cast a blot on how sporting heroes are treated when aline and remembered in death, noting that “despite his achievements as a patriotic fighter for the good of Nigerian football, some persons in power did not like him but now that he has been laid to rest, I hope we will start treating our heroes well because it is such good treatment that will make the young ones to spill their blood to win laurels for Nigeria”.