I remember Senegal 92 and a Super Eagle’s team captained by Stephen Keshi. Nigeria would be knocked out by Ghana in an intense semi final match. Stephen Keshi had a great tournament even though we didn’t win it. In Tunisia 94 Keshi however did not have a lot of game play because of injuries, he would wear the captain band to lift the trophy as the Super Eagles won the tournament.
Stephen Keshi in his playing days and also as a coach has always had a love hate relationship with the then Nigerian NFA. Keshi was a player who fought for the rights of his fellow players. And as a coach he wanted the very best from his players and from the football authorities.
There are few honoured heroes in the annals of Nigerian history. Most people who give their best to the country are most times forgotten after their deaths. The likes of Rashidi Yekini and Amadu Shuaibu are seldom remembered by national authorities. Unfortunately, some of these heroes passed on without a whisper. Some even died in penury.
Keshi died almost in despair in a country that loved to hate him. He played his heart out, and as a coach gave Nigeria a third Nations cup. He died not long after his wife’s passing, heart-broken that his sweet heart was no more, and heart-broken by a country that later turned on him after he won the Nations cup. Though many waters passed under the bridge, the way he parted ways with the then Nigerian Football Federation was far from honourable. There was little honour for Keshi in his final days, in a country that seldom remembers its heroes.
When Google remembers Stephen Keshi with a meme on their search engine, I felt a sense of pride and justification. Pride that Stephen Keshi even in death is honoured internationally, and justification that heroes will always be remembered sometimes beyond their sphere’s of influence.