Stephen Keshi, the greatest Nigerian footballer of his generation, has died at the age of 54.
A former captain of the Nigerian national team, Keshi was one of only two people, along with Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and a coach.
While most people would remember him as the no-nonsense defender, here are 20 things you might not have known about ‘The Big Boss’.
1. Late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi was born on the 23 of January 1962 in Azare, Bauchi State, Nigeria.
2. Born into the Ogbuenyi Fredrick Keshi family of Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State.
3. He started his professional career as a defender in 1979.
4. The ex-international was among the first set of Nigerians to play professional football abroad.
5. Keshi played professional football for 19 years including appearances for ACB Lagos (1979), New Nigeria Bank (1980-84), Stade d’Abidjan (1985), Africa Sports (1986), Lokeren (1986-87), Anderlecht (1987-91), RC Strasbourg (1991-93), RWDM (1993-94), CCV Hydra (1995), Sacramento Scorpions (1996), and Perlis FA (1997-98).
6. Keshi was capped 64 times scoring 9 goals for the national team between 1981-1995.
7. In his playing days, he was nicknamed ‘The Big Boss’ for the influence he exerted over his teammates.
8. After a playing career mostly with Belgian clubs, Keshi went to the United States to be educated in coaching.
9. His coaching career included stints with Togo and Mali before guiding Nigeria to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
10. A former captain of the Nigeria national team, Keshi was one of only two men to won the Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach.
11. As a player, Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and narrowly missed out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year.
12. After the 2014 World Cup, Keshi’s contract was not renewed but he later returned on a match-by-match deal following the team’s failure to reach the 2015 Nations Cup finals.
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13. He was then sacked as caretaker coach but reinstated after intervention from then Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan. He was sacked for a final time last July.
14. In 2015, Stephen Keshi’s daughter, Ifeyinwa got married in Benin, Edo state.
15. Keshi was married to his wife Nkem Kate Keshi (née Abureme) for 33 years.
16. She died on December 10, 2015, after battling cancer for three years.
17. Mr. Keshi is survived by four children and his mother.
18. The ex-international had a low-key 54th birthday celebration on January 23, 2016, just a month after his wife’s death.
19. He was the greatest Nigerian footballer of his generation.
20. The 54-year-old former Super Eagles coach died in the early hours of Wednesday, June 8, 2016 in Benin city, Edo state.
May his gentle soul rest in peace.