By Chiamaka Phillips
Former Captain and coach of the Nigerian National team, the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has died from a suspected heart attack.
He was aged 54.
Keshi was one of African football’s best-known figures and was one of only two men to win the African Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach.
The news of his death was confirmed by the Nigeria Football Federation in a tweet on Wednesday morning.
During his playing career, Keshi lifted the Nations Cup with the Super Eagles in 1994 and then went on to coach Nigeria in three spells, which included a last-16 finish in the 2014 World Cup.
Fondly called ‘the Big Boss’, Keshi also managed Togo and Mali’s national sides.
His 20-year playing career included a spell at Belgian side Anderlecht, plus stints in France, the United States and Malaysia. He won 64 caps for his country at centre-back between 1981 and 1995, scoring nine goals.
Keshi began his managerial career with Togo in 2004 and would have three stints with the Son for the 2006 World Cup. He had a two-year spell with Mali before landing the Super Eagles job in 2011.
He then oversaw an overhaul of the squad and took his young side to the continental title two years later.
Keshi’s contract with Nigeria was not renewed after the 2014 World Cup, despite a strong showing where the Super Eagles lost in the second round to France.
He would then return on a match-by-match deal after the Super Eagles failed to reach the 2015 Nations Cup. He was then sacked, but later reinstated after intervention from Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan.
He was again dismissed last July.
Keshi’s wife Kate passed away last December after a three-year battle with cancer. Keshi is survived by their four children.