Friday, January 7, 2011


The exploits of the 1994 set of Super Eagles is still very fresh in the memory of most soccer-loving Nigerians. Still regarded by many as, arguably, the greatest Eagles team so far, their names spring to memory like the letters of the alphabets... Augustine Eguavoen, Daniel Amokachie, Ben Iroha, Emmanuel Amuneke, Finidi George, Peter Rufai, Jay Jay Okocha, Rashidi Yekini , Samson Siasia, Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh, Uche Okechukwu, Uche Okafor....

Now that's the sad part. News reports filtering from Dallas United States, say that Okafor, a member of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winning team that also reached the second round of the USA 1994 World Cup, is dead.  The 43 year-old former Nigeria international was found, hanged to death, at his Dallas, Texas home in the United States of America early Thursday. "Seriously, I still find it hard to believe when I got the call from the US yesterday (Thursday) evening. This is a really sad way to begin the year," said Ben Iroha, an ex-Eagles team mate of Okafor between 1990 and 1994, while adding that he was yet to know what happened. "But I feel so sad to hear this because he was a very marvellous friend and brother," said the former assitant coach of Heartland FC. 

Okafor’s professional career began at defunct ACB of Lagos before he moved to KRC Mechelen. The late Nigerian player has also played for Hannover 96 before ending his career at Sporting Kansas City, formerly known as Kansas City Wizards. He also featured in one of the four matches of Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the 1994 Fifa World Cup in the USA. He won a total of 34 caps for the national team.

However, there are still no details concerning the death of Okafor, who before his untimely death was an African football analyst for ESPN. The police in the United States are said to have cordoned off his home, as a coroner is carrying out an inquest into circumstance surrounding his death. 

A Super Eagle has flown away to the great beyond. Uche Okafor, may your soul rest in peace. Nigeria will remember you for your contribution to national glory on the football pitch.

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