This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Chukwu, Nwosu Mourn Okey Isima

Ex-Nigerian footballers, Christian Chukwu and Henry Nwosu, have said that the death of their 1980 Africa Cup of Nations teammate, Okey Isima, has left them in shock.

Both Chukwu and Nwosu were members of Nigeria's squad that won the AFCON in 1980 alongside Isima.

"I'm still shocked by the news because Okey was such a gentleman who was intelligent. Suddenly the memories of 1980 and how we won the Nations Cup is beginning to play back. The memories of playing with him in the final of the 1980 final against Algeria is beginning to look like yesterday though it is more than 30 years now," observed Chukwu Tuesday.

"Our paths also crossed beyond the national team then because we were teammates at (Enugu) Rangers. He was a very professional footballer and always put in everything in matches and even training back then."

Nwosu also said: "Okey was a close friend. When I came into the national team around the late 1970s, early 1980s, he was always encouraging me as I was still a schoolboy then. He was very experienced at over 20 years in age at that time and was playing for a big club like Rangers.

"His death is a big loss to his family, the nation and everyone close to him. He had big plans of his own to help develop the game in the country but unfortunately he's gone now."

Isima died at the age of 56 in Abuja on Monday.

Better known as Okey Isima, the renowned left back won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with the Green Eagles in 1980 and also played for Nigeria at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow as well as the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Libya.

He played for a few more years with the Eagles after the Libya '82 adventure, scoring a famous goal in the 1-0 defeat of Tunisia in a 1986 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Lagos in 1985.

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