Some associates of the late Coach Kelechi Emeteole, former Green Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala and teammate, Joseph Aniedobe have said that they are sorrowful over his death in the early hours of Wednesday.
prominent coach in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) died in a New Delhi hospital in India where he was receiving treatment for throat cancer.
Emeteole, played under the Yugoslavian football coach, Tihomir “Tiko” Jelisavčić (Father Tiko) during the 1976 African Cup of Nations where Nigeria came third.
Often called “The Caterpillar’’, Emeteole played alongside Idowu Otubusen, Samuel Ojebode, Zion Ogunfehinmi, Kunle Awesu, Muda Lawal, Joe Erico and others when crop the Rangers International players revolted in the national team.
For his coaching career, Emetiole cut his teeth with notable clubs such as Spartan FC, Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri, El-Kanemi of Maiduguri and Rangers International of Enugu.
He led Iwuanyanwu Nationale to the final of CAF Champions League in 2009.
Emma Okala, a 1980 gold winning Green Eagles goalkeeper said it was yet another sad day for the nation’s sports family, especially football.
Okala told Newsmen that he had drawn government’s attention to the health of Emetole when Kenneth Ilodigwe died but wondered if it was heeded.
He described Emeteole as dependable friend and teammate who gave his all to the country both as a player and a coach.
“Oh, what is this again, unusually a former national keeper called me and after a long discussion he broke the news to me.
“It is sad that we are losing those who built the foundation of Nigerian football in quick succession.
“It is a black day and we will miss Emetole for a long time, I pray that God consoles his family.
“I want to also call attention of the public to the plight of Christian Madu, another fine player who has been sick, those in charge should come to his aid and to the aid of those of us still alive,’’ he said.
Joseph Aniedobe, a former teammate of Emeteole at defunct Textile Mill of Aba and Rangers International of Enugu lamented uncontrollably of the news of Emetole’s demise.
Aniedobe, popularly called “Uncle Joe’’, said his relationship with “The Catapillar’’ dated back to 1972 when he played for the defunct Aba side against Emeteole’s defunct team from Kaduna.
He added that Emeteole was his personal friend.
“I find it difficult to believe Kelechi is dead, we have been friends since 1972 when I convinced him to join us in Textile Mill of Aba.
“We were together in the same house for about a year before we moved to Rangers International of Enugu.
“Emeteole was a good man, it is indeed a sad development, just when we are recovering from the demise of Luke Okpala, Earnest Ufele and Kenneth Ilodigwe whom we lost to death in recent times.
“My only wish is that the country we served with our youthfulness should not abandon us in time of need because all these people would have lived a little longer if there was help,’’ he said.