CAF, Tanzania, Zambia, others mourn Stephen Keshi


President of the Confederation of African Football, Alhaji (Dr) Issa Hayatou was one of the first senior citizens in world football to commiserate with the NFF and the Nigeria football family over the death of Nigeria legend Stephen Keshi on Wednesday.

The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations –winning Coach died in the early hours of Wednesday after complaining of irregular heartbeats and pain in his legs. He passed on before reaching the hospital.

In his letter addressed to NFF President Amaju Pinnick, Hayatou wrote: “We have learned with great dismay and immense sadness the passing away of African and Nigerian football legend Stephen Okechukwu Keshi today.

“Even if Stephen Keshi left us too early, he achieved an incredible career, both as a player and as a coach, being one of only two people in African football history, along with Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player, in Tunisia in 1994, and as a coach, in South Africa in 2013.

“After having played mostly with French and Belgian clubs, Stephen Keshi became a tremendous professional coach, coaching the Togo national football team between 2004 and 2006, and incredibly achieving the dream of any nation by making the West African nation to qualify to its first ever World Cup in 2006 in Germany.”

In his own tribute, also addressed to Pinnick, president of the Tanzania Football Federation, Jamal Malinzi wrote: “I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of Nigeria and Africa’s football legend Stephen Keshi. In this sorrowful time, I would like on behalf of the football community in Tanzania to extend to you our heartfelt condolences…

“Though he is gone, his service to football has not lasted with his passing as he will always have an everlasting legacy in the game of football.”

Football Association of Zambia president Andrew Kamanga wrote: “It is with deep sense of sorrow to learn of the passing on of your former coach of Nigeria, Mr. Steven Keshi. On behalf of the Executive Committee of the FAZ, the Secretariat staff, the Zambian football fraternity and indeed on my own behalf, we wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Nigeria football family and indeed Mr. Keshi’s family on the passing on of our beloved colleague.”

Pinnick, NFF 1st Vice President Seyi Akinwunmi and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi were the first persons to sign the condolence register opened for the departed legend at the Glass House in Abuja.

The Group Sports Editor of THISDAY newspapers, Mr. Duro Ikhazuagbe was among those who called at the NFF secretariat to sign the condolence register.

Also at the Glass House was a delegation of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, led by the President –General, Dr. Rafiu Oladipo.

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