The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, and former Nigeria international, Mutiu Adepoju, have paid tributes to late Super Eagles midfielder, Samuel Okwaraji on the 29th anniversary of his death.
On August 12, 1989, Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos and died from congestive heart failure. An autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
The Super Eagles went on to win the game 1-0 thanks to late Stephen Keshi’s goal. The team however failed to qualify for the World Cup after losing 1-0 to Cameroon in their last group game in Yaounde.
Remembering Okwaraji, the NFF wrote on their verified Twitter handle: “We remember former Super Eagles midfielder #SamuelOkwaraji who passed on to glory on this day in 1989. He was such a patriot in the truest sense of the word. Keep resting Samuel Somtochukwu Okwaraji ( 19 May 1964 – 12 August 1989).”
Adepoju, on his part, suggested that August 12 be declared a public holiday in honour of the late footballer.
“It is not a bad idea if August 12 is declared as public holiday to remember #SamuelOkwaraji who passed on to glory on this day in 1989. Keep resting legend.”
Okwaraji made his debut for the Super Eagles in 1988 and was a member of the squad that lost 1-0 to Cameroon in the final of the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.
The 1988 Seoul Olympic star, who was a qualified lawyer and had a masters in international law from the University of Rome, played for clubs like AS Roma (1984-1985),
NK Dinamo Zagreb (1985-1986), Austria Klagenfurt (1986-1987), VfB Stuttgart (1987-1989) and SSV Ulm 1846 (loan) (1987-1988).