LAGOS – Nigeria football legend Stephen Keshi has died suddenly at the age of 54.
One of African football's best-known figures, the ex-Super Eagles captain is one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and a coach.
NFF president Amaju Pinnick: "This is devastating. We have lost a superhero."
Keshi, who is reported to have suffered a heart attack by local media, also managed Togo and Mali, while his playing career included a spell with Belgian club side Anderlecht.
Keshi was part of the Nigeria team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 before narrowly missing out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year.
He coached the Super Eagles on three occasions, leading them to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
His contract was not renewed after the World Cup but he returned on a match-by-match deal following the team's failure to reach the 2015 Nations Cup finals.
He was then sacked as caretaker coach but reinstated after intervention from then Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan. Keshi was then sacked for a final time last July.
A family member told the TheCable: “Since the death of his wife, Kate, in December 2015, his life had changed dramatically. He had become hypertensive but was managing it very well… always taking his medications and checking his blood pressure very regularly.
“After the burial of his wife, people practically left him to himself. The calls and visits became fewer, and he felt the pain the more. They were married for 35 years and he watched the love of his life battle bravely with cancer for three years. He was inconsolable.”
Keshi, who was due to travel to the US later in the day, started complaining of excruciating pains in his legs a few minutes to midnight.
In a statement issued by his family, the preliminary cause of death was given as “cardiac arrest”. – Agencies