Stephen Okechukwu Keshi aka The Big Boss is one person I really admired and I am not saying this because he died. I wasn’t a big fan of his (I didn’t start watching football till 1994 just like I can’t claim being a Pele fan because I never saw him play) when he played but his influence was felt because I never heard of a Super Eagles tale without the mention of the Big Boss back then in 94. He was amongst my 5 most respected Nigerian footballers ever along with Rashidi Yekini, Finidi George, Samson Siasia and Nwankwo Kanu. He made the list of my top 5 because of his charisma and when you have big brothers like big Doz and big Yomz you are on the right track to hearing authentic football history.
Keshi didn’t only win my admiration as a player even though when I saw him play for the Super Eagles he was barely a starter but he sealed his place as a great in my heart when he won the African Cup of Nations in January of 2013 leading a bunch of relatively unknown players to winning a trophy that eluded the nation for 19 years prior to the success. He became the second person to win the Nations Cup as player and coach and he’s the only Nigerian coach to have led the country to a Confederations Cup Tourney (a dress rehearsal for the World Cup which is played the year that precedes the World Cup proper). He led Nigeria to the second round of the World Cup which held in Brazil in 2014 and I maintain till date that if Ogenyi Onazi had not been injured Nigeria would have gotten to the semi-final and Keshi would have made history.
The only disservice I rendered to The Big Boss was supporting The present NFF when they were preparing to come into power (not that my opinion counted). I didn’t know they were out to frustrate the man who had brought back at the least a shade of glory to the country. Well that’s gone and Keshi sure had the last laugh (well for now) because Nigerian football (Super Eagles in particular) has been a joke since his ousting from the National team job. It was clear he had love for the country and the sports. An enviable CV to show (a short coaching career) after qualifying Togo for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and coached them twice (2007-2008 and 2011) after he was sacked for a poor Nations Cup in 2006. He also managed the Malian national team with Nigeria been his last coaching role before his demise. It was rumored he was about to be appointed the coach of Orlando Pirates in South Africa before news of his death filtered in.
The Big Boss lost his wife of over 30 years last year and he’s survived by a mother and four kids. Farewell Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Nigeria has definitely lost a Soldier. You cannot mention Nigeria’s football history over the last 25 years without making reference to Keshi either as a player or a coach. This man’s name has been etched in history hate him or loathe him.
Thanks for your time guys. Cheers