The African football fraternity is mourning the death of former Nigeria captain and coach Stephen Keshi from a cardiac arrest at the age of 54.
Keshi died suddenly in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Benin City in southern Nigeria. He was planning to return to his base in the United States later that day.
His friends say that Keshi was in good health and had no previous heart problems.
After winning 64 Nigeria caps as a central defender between 1981-95, Keshi had three stints in charge of Togo before taking over as Nigeria coach in 2011. He also coached Mali between 2008-10.
He led Nigeria to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations title, defeating Burkina Faso in the final in South Africa before guiding them to the second round of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Along with Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, Keshi is one of only two men to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and coach.
His 20-year playing career included stints in Belgium, France, the United States and finally in Malaysia, with Perlis FA.
Keshi lost his wife, Kate, last December after a three-year battle with cancer and is survived by their four children.
Nicknamed the “Big Boss” for his leadership skills, Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that made the second round of USA ’94 before losing to eventual finalists, Italy in the Round of 16.