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Shock, disbelief, as another ex-Eagles coach, Amodu, dies in Benin City

By Gowon Akpodonor and Samuel Ifetoye (Lagos) and Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City
12 June 2016   |   4:49 am
For the second time in a week, misery enveloped the Nigerian sporting community, following the death of another former Super Eagles coach, Amodu Shaibu, yesterday in his sleep.
PHOTO: www.sl10.ng

PHOTO: www.sl10.ng

• He Complained Of Pain In His Chest Region, Say Family
• He Came To Benin To Process Paper For Payments Of Money Owed Him By Edo State Government
• Buried Amid Tears, Oshiomhole Mourns

For the second time in a week, misery enveloped the Nigerian sporting community, following the death of another former Super Eagles coach, Amodu Shaibu, yesterday in his sleep. His death came barely three days after former Super Eagles captain and coach Stephen Keshi died in Benin City.

Amodu, the Technical Director of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), also died in Benin City.Amodu was buried in his hometown, Okpella, Etsako East Local Council of Edo State yesterday in accordance with Muslim rites.

The former BCC Lions of Gboko tactician was said to have come to Benin to process some payment papers for his works as technical director in a project initiated by Edo State government to groom young football talents.

Amodu was said to have complained of pain in his chest region on Friday and then saw a doctor, who told him to conclude his Ramadam fast for that day, but advised not to continue so that he could take his drugs regularly. He was said to be hypertensive.

At the Stella Obasanjo Hospital along Sapele Road, where his body was first taken to before it was moved to Okpella for Muslim burial, associates, friends, colleagues and family members broke down in uncontrollably tears. Incidentally, the remains of Stephen Keshi are still in the same morgue awaiting burial.

Amodu was in late Keshi’s house on Thursday to pay his condolence, where he wrote in the register: “The big boss, you lived a good life and ran a good race. Adieu my brother.”

When The Guardian rushed to the hospital after the new broke yesterday, the lifeless body of Amodu covered in white cloth on a stretcher lay at the entrance of the morgue.

His cousin, who is also the Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said Amodu was discovered dead in his room yesterday morning at his house, located at Delta Crescent, GRA, Benin.

“We were together yesterday. He came to my house in the morning and we were discussing about how Keshi died, and he was saying how calm Keshi was and that death is the ultimate price every man must pay.

“He left my place and I asked what his programme was, and he said he was going to Okpella today (Saturday) only for us to realise that it is only his dead body that we will be taken to Okpella. It is quite shocking. I still don’t believe it. It is like a dream to me.

“Amodu told me he would be travelling to Okpella this morning (Saturday.) Later in the day (Friday), he was at the police station to see one of the family members who was arrested.

“It is still a mystery to us, because he led the last prayers yesterday and he only complained of having pain at the chest region. He was actually a BP patient and he was also observing the Ramadan. The doctor advised that he should stop the Ramadan fasting and that he should be taking his drugs. He went to sleep and he said they should wake him up by 4am this morning (Saturday) for the (Suhur) prayers. He was discovered dead in his room at about 4 am this morning when they went to wake him up.

“He died in his sleep. We have contacted the traditional ruler of the community, the Okuokulagbe of Okpella who initially said that we should bring him tomorrow (today), but on a second thought we have consulted our family members. We also discussed with his direct brother in Lagos who said he is leaving Lagos and that we should move his body to his house in the village so they will meet us at home and then arrange for the burial later in the evening,”
Afegbua stated.

Since morning, am weighed down with the news of the death of Keshi. For now, I still take it as a rumour; I can’t really believe it. However it may be, we take it as a journey we all have to pass through. Keshi worked so hard in life, he made his name as a player, captain of the National team and as a National Coach. We will have wished he still wait for the junior ones to benefit from his wealth of experience, but we cannot question God. We will only pray to God to bless his soul and give him eternal rest, and the family he left behind the fortitude to bear the loss. For us as a country, we will always remember Stephan Keshi. I will continue to miss him, because he occupies a very special place in our mind. — Excerpt from Shaibu’s yet to be published interview on Keshi.

Reacting to the death, the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Pinnick Amajulu, said, “this is another tragedy too many.”

Pinnick, in a statement issued by thenff.com, said, “we are still talking about Keshi’s death, and now Amodu is gone. I’m short of words.”

Pinnick, who was on his way back to Benin City, 24 hours after returning from visiting late Keshi’s family, could only add: “Amodu’s name was synonymous with the Super Eagles. You can’t talk about the history of Super Eagles without Amodu getting prominent chapters.”

Amodu, who was confirmed as National Technical Director by the Nigeria Football Federation in October 2014, died at the age of 58. Amodu was the only man to have coached Nigeria’s senior team on four occasions.

Chairman of the Edo State Football Association, Mr. Frank Ilaboya, told thenff.com that he had been informed by the Edo State Commissioner for Information, Kassim Afegbua, that the remains of the celebrated trainer had been deposited at the Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin City – incidentally the same facility where Keshi’s remains are kept.

One of the best coaches that Nigeria has produced, Amodu first took charge of the Super Eagles at the age of 36, following the departure of Dutchman Clemens Westerhof after the Super Eagles were eliminated from USA ’94 World in the Round of 16.

Amodu’s first match with the Eagles was the famous ‘Wembley friendly’ in which Nigeria impressed, but lost 0-1 to the Three Lions of England.

In 2002, Shaibu, Steven Keshi and Joe Erico qualified Nigeria for the World Cup, after rescuing the team from the brink of failure under Jo Bonfrere. After getting a bronze at Mali 2002 African Nations Cup, they were sacked before the 2002 World Cup and coach Adegboye Onigbinde took over.

NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, left for Amodu’s hometown Okpella with NFF’s assistant director (technical) Abdulrafiu Yusuf and head of psychology Robinson Okosun to commiserate with the family.

Sanusi told thenff.com: “This is most shocking. We are yet to recover from the death of Stephen Keshi.”Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, former Super Eagles defender, Taribo West said: “God, spare Nigerian sports men and women from this agony. How can we lose Amodu today when we are yet to recover from the shock of Keshi’s death? This is big torture and I pray that God should put a stop to it.”

Former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Coach Kashimawo Laloko, said the death of the sweat merchant was the most shocking news he ever heard in his life.

Laloko described the death as a sad and unfortunate one, saying the country would miss Amodu’s technical expertise.“I spoke to Amodu three days ago, when we discussed Keshi’s death and his burial; only for somebody to tell me this morning that he was dead. As I am talking to you right now, I have not been myself since then. His death is going to take our football back for at least one year,” Laloko stated.

Speaking further, the former coach of The Gambia national team said: “For me, in the last 15 years, Amodu was the most intelligent person that has ever run the technical department of the NFF. He is brilliant, intelligent, organised, forthright, innovative and creative. I do not know how else to describe him. We are surely going to miss him.”

Also speaking with The Guardian, former Eagles midfielder, Friday Ekpo, said he was yet to recover from the demise of Keshi before the news of Amodu’s death occurred.

Ekpo said: “Let me be frank with you, I have not yet recovered from Keshi’s shocking death, then Amodu again! As I am talking to you, I am not myself.”

The management, technical crew and players of Gateway United football club of Ogun State also expressed shock and sadness over the death of former BCC Lions, Sharks and Super Eagles coach, Amodu.

In a statement signed by the team’s Media Officer, Rotimi Oduniyi, the Club’s General Manager, Prince Tunji Onatolu expressed grief over the unfortunate incident.

Prince Onatolu said Amodu’s death was more painful since he had no reported illness issues and coming just three days after the death of another Super Eagles coach and his assistant at the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali, Stephen Keshi.

He also recalled Amodu’s exploit on the domestic scene, especially when he led Sharks of Port Harcourt against Gateway United in the 2006 Nigeria Premier League and prayed for the repose of his soul.

He also commiserated with the football fraternity in Nigeria, especially the Nigeria Football Federation on the death of its Technical Director and former Eagles captain, Steven Keshi in matter of days.

Amodu came to national limelight when he led the BCC Lions of Gboko to the National Challenge Cup (now Federation Cup) victory in 1989 (A competition he also won with the El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri). The team went on to win the African Cup Winners Cup (Confederation Cup) in 1990.

He first managed the Nigerian national team from April 2001 to February 2002, where he led Nigeria to the AFCON bronze medal at Mali 2002. He was later dismissed after the AFCON tournament.

He was appointed Head Coach of the Nigerian national side in April 2008, and was sacked on February 6, 2010, despite reaching third place with the national side in the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola.

He was re-appointed Nigeria manager in October 2014, replacing Stephen Keshi. It was his fourth spell in charge of the country.

Keshi returned to the role two weeks later, but was fired in July 2015 and Amodu took over the Eagles again temporarily. He was replaced by Sunday Oliseh on a permanent basis later that month.

Following the resignation of Sunday Oliseh, the NFF again, appointed Amodu as the new interim coach of the national team. The new coaching crew alongside Amodu was made up of Salisu Ibrahim, Alloy Agu, Imama Amakapabo and Kennedy Boboye.

Amodu has managed a number of club sides in the past both in Nigeria and overseas. They include, Shooting Stars, BCC Lions, El Kanemi Warriors, Sharks F.C and Orlando Pirates of South Africa.