In a statement by his media aide, David Mark said: “only a very few men in the world has such an intimidating credential. We cannot question the Will of the Almighty creator, but this is one death too many.”
Describing late Stephen Keshi superlatively as an indefatigable coach and the ‘Big Boss,’ the former Senate President said that Keshi was one of the greatest and most successful footballers Nigeria has ever produced.
“Till date, no one has beaten his record. As a captain of the Super Eagles in 1994, he won the Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia. As the Chief Coach of the Super Eagles in 2013, he led Nigeria to win the Nations’ Cup in South Africa.
“He was forthright and outspoken. He was steadfast. He never compromised his position especially on professionalism no matter whose ox was gored. Keshi was to African football what Mohammed Ali was to Boxing.
“Only a very few men in the world has such an intimidating credential. We cannot question the Will of the Almighty creator, but this is one death too many.
“Keshi’s death is akin to death of more than a hundred massacred in a pogrom. Keshi was one of our greatest footballers. He lived and worked for Nigeria. He certainly left a huge vacuum that would be difficult to fill.”
The ex- Senate president asked Nigerians, especially the football family to take solace in the fact that Keshi left his positive footprint on the sands of time.
To the deceased’s immediate family, Mark said they should continue to build on the uncommon patriotism, unwavering commitment to the ideals of nationhood and resourcefulness which Keshi was known for.
He prayed that God grant the ex-Super Eagles captain eternal rest just as he prayed that the Almighty give the bereaved family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
This was even as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expressed deep shock at the death in the early hours of Wednesday of Stephen Keshi, through its President, Amaju Pinnick.
Pinnick said: “This is devastating. We have lost a superhero. The NFF Board will meet and decide on the best way to honour Stephen Keshi. We will be fully involved in the arrangements for the final burial rites.”
Pinnick directed that all centres hosting matches of the Nigeria Professional Football League on Wednesday should observe one-minute silence before kick-off.
The NFF has already informed the Confederation of African Football and the world body, FIFA, about the passing of the legend.
Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and as a Coach.
The only person to achieve similar feat was Egyptian Mahmoud el-Gohary, who is also of blessed memory. [myad]