Last moments of late Nasarawa United Player Chineme Martins
He was the last player to enter Nasarawa United’s Football Club’s bus en route the team’s pre-game warm-up. The team was about to leave for the Matchday 23 of the Nigeria Professional Football League against Katsina United in Lafia.
They gingered each other as the bus slowly went into motion. Martins Chineme was the gentle type. The words of the 23-year old were few and as the bus hit the road he expressed how much he’d like to rest after the game.
“After today’s game, I’ll need to take a rest. I won’t go anywhere till our next match with Plateau United on Wednesday. I really need to rest. I’ll take some days off before our next match”, he said.
Was this the type of rest the almost 5″10 player planned to take? On the field of play, he showed no strain of exhaustion or distress. He kept Katsina United players at bay throughout the first half.
According to the Media Officer of the team Eche Amos, the entire team members are in deep shock.
“I haven’t been myself since yesterday because it happened in my presence. I even saw him in my dream last night.
“He was just standing o. Nothing happened. There’s this joke we use say “Fall like a tree”. That was just how he fell… like a tree… he fell on his right side. The player who was closest to him on the pitch quickly ran to him. Before he could even get to him, his tongue was outside.
“We tried to resuscitate him, tried to breathe into his mouth while closing his nose. Every other means of reviving him failed. That was when the state Governor directed that we should rush him to the hospital.
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“They rushed him to the hospital and before the commencement of the second half, they called to say he had died but that I should just keep quiet.
“There was no trace of any illness before he fell. He was a quiet guy in camp. At the time he slumped. the visiting team wasn’t even a threat to us so there was no pressure on us that could have warranted any sort of tension on the players. We dominated the game and even our goalkeeper only touched the ball maybe thrice or four times throughout the first half”.
Eche who was also an eye witness described the player as calm defender.
“Chineme was a player who seldom got involved in physical contest during matches. He was a huge but calm defender and wasn’t aggressive. Other defenders did the dirty jobs but he cushioned the pressure. He didn’t make any contact with anybody, to the best of my knowledge. I have taken my time to watch the video but there was nothing like that”.
Eche Amos also ruled out any health issues on the part of the player. “He was the last to enter the bus on our way to the stadium. Everyone was in high spirit though he said he will just want to rest for two or three days and come back for their midweek encounter.
That was the last discussion he had with his teammates on the bus and they laughed over it. They said to him “you wey like match like something else” Eche said.
The players, who are still in shock over the death of their teammate couldn’t train on Monday. Family members of the deceased also came to Lafia to verify the report of their son’s death.
“They went to the morgue to confirm the authenticity of the reports and they have taken it in good faith”
Meanwhile the state governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule has promised to procure a brand new ambulance for the Nasarawa United team and ensure that all necessary facilities needed for the team to prosecute their matches are provided.
These include additional buses for the team. Gov Sule has also directed that a Cardiovascular machine should be acquired for the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital.
“He also directed that additional qualified and experienced medical personnel from the Specialist hospital be added to the football team’s medical squad.
The team’s Media Officer extolled the virtues of the late player.
“He brought stability to the team and as a central defender, it was difficult for opponents to maneuver the defense of Nasarawa United. He was a dependable, young, promising, great player who fought till the end and formed a pivotal part of Nasarawa United squad, since joining us three seasons ago from FC Abuja after his stint with FC Ifeanyi Ubah”.
The Management of Nasarawa United has since expressed its heartfelt condolences to the family of Late Martins Chineme, his team-mates, Coaches, loved ones, fans, the football family in Nasarawa State and Nigerians.