BY JOE APU
Since Wednesday June 8, 2016 when the news broke of the demise of former Super Eagles captain and coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, the Nigerian sports community has been in mourning mood.
Several of his colleagues at both club and national team levels have continued to express shock at the sudden manner he passed on.
For coach Lawrence Akpokona who captained the then Bendel Insurance of Benin when Keshi was captain of the New Nigeria Bank of Benin, the death of the latter remains a mystery.
“Keshi as a person is very amiable and left his mark as a player and a coach. As a player he had this leadership ambiance that radiates around him and he used it very well on and off the pitch. As players in Benin back in our playing days, Keshi was my bitter rival but all the rivalry ended on the pitch. After the game we get back as best of friends.
“The news of his death hit me like a thunderbolt and knowing that his wife died last September, the trauma was still with him. I speak from experience as I was in the same situation when I lost my wife. I was always thinking and suffered from high blood pressure. For three years, I didn’t sleep and was almost losing my mind. I was on drugs for a long while just to help me maintain sanity and at a point, I had to stop the drugs in other not to get addicted.
“After Keshi’s wife Kate died in September and buried in December of 2015, I spoke to him on how he could manage the situation given my experience. The situation can be tough and challenging I can attest to that. The trauma was too much for him and he must have bowed to it. I don’t know how his kids would react. But God knows best. We can’t question Him.”
Akpokona noted further that with calls bombarding his phone to know if the news was true, he had to call Keshi’s brother-in-law who confirmed that it was true.
“I was shocked and to imagine that he died in Benin was even more shocking. I didn’t even know he was in town. His in-law said Keshi complained of his legs being heavy. Someone was called in to massage his legs for him after which he felt better and the in-law left only to be called again. He said that when he got back to Keshi, he saw a different person who was writting in pains and was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.”
For Coach Henry Nwosu who was with Keshi in St. Finbars, ACB of Lagos and New Nigeria Bank of Benin, he is yet to come to terms with the news of his teammate’s death.
“I was woken up to the sad news of Keshi’s death and the number of calls that I have received is alarming. I just can’t understand why this has to happen.
“Keshi was a gentleman and a workaholic. Our times together are very memorable.”
Recalling how he had known Keshi when they were both ball boys in Benin in the 70s before becoming members of the ‘Greater Tomorrow’ team and going on to play for St. Finbarr’s College, Lagos, Nwosu said it was a very sad day.
“I’m still in shock, I can’t believe that he is dead,” said Nwosu, who won silver at Maroc’88 Nations Cup with Keshi.
Source : SunOnline