The Nigerian football family has been thrown into mourning following the death of former national coach and player, Kelechi Emeteole. He was 66.
Emeteole died in the early hours of Wednesday June 21, 2017 at an Indian hospital following a protracted illness diagnosed as cancer of the throat.
Mr. Chinedu Emeteole, a family member, who confirmed the sad news said, “Coach Emeteole has been in an Indian hospital for over a month with his wife for the treatment but the hospital discovered that his heart was too weak to withstand the major operation. The hospital decided to treat the heart weakness first so that he will have the strength to withstand the needed surgery; unfortunately he died before the operation could be done.
Meanwhile, The Nigeria Football Federation has expressed shock at the news of the death of the one-time Head Coach of the Super sand Eagles, Emeteole, who won 17 caps for the senior national team (then known as Green Eagles) and scored four goals, between 1975 and 1977, died in the early hours of Wednesday in India where he had gone for surgery on throat cancer.
“The death of Mr. Kelechi Emeteole came to us as a rude shock. A year ago, we lost two legends in the persons of Stephen Keshi and Shaibu Amodu in the month of June. This year, also in the month of June, we have now lost another legend who served the nation creditably, energetically and meritoriously.
“Our hearts go out to his caring family that he has now left: his wife and children as well as relations. We pray that they will have the fortitude to bear the loss. We also pray that the soul of the departed finds eternal rest. Nigerian Football will miss him dearly,” NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said.
Nicknamed ‘Caterpillar’ for his no –nonsense approach as a defender, Emeteole won a bronze medal with the Green Eagles at the 10th Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ethiopia in 1976, and later served as assistant coach of the Super Eagles.
He also coached elite domestic teams like Enyimba FC, Rangers International, Lobi Stars, Heartland FC and El-Kanemi Warriors, and between 2007 and 2009 was Head Coach of the Beach Soccer National Team, Supersand Eagles.
As the death of Coach Emetole filtered Owerri yesterday, friends, players and former colleagues gathered in clusters at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in shock over the sad news.
In a swift reaction, the Imo state Football Association secretary, Mr. Goddy Ndudi, has advised the Federal Government to immortalize the sweat merchant, considering his contributions in the growth and advancement of Nigeria football