HE IS NOT DEAD-Samuel Okwaraji lives on

Former Nigerian international, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, is set to be eulogized and remembered by the country’s football federation during the Federation Cup games billed to hold this Wednesday.

According to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the portrait of late Okwaraji will be displayed at the eight venues for the quarterfinal matches in the Federation Cup for men and women.

“On Wednesday, the portrait of the late midfielder would be displayed round the eight venues of the Federation Cup quarterfinals in remembrance of him: Enugu, Benin City, Neros Stadium, Oleh, Lokoja, Abuja, Ilorin and Makurdi,” the NFF official website stated.

The NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, took time off on the eve of the 26th anniversary of Okwaraji’s death, to eulogise the late footballer and also speak to his mother, Mrs Jane Okwaraji.

“Mama, there is nothing I can say other than to tell you to continue to take solace in the fact that Sochukwuma was a star for Nigeria, a name that no one has been able to forget no matter how much they tried. He was the quintessential professional and patriot per excellence.

“Please be rest assured that Sochukwuma will continue to be in our hearts and consciousness. He was a rare gem. I assure you that the NFF will continue to keep in touch with you,” Pinnick to Mrs Okwaraji over the telephone.

Brother of the late footballer, Patrick Okwaraji, said the telephone call by Pinnick was uplifting.“We are grateful to the NFF President for his phone call. At least, Mama is feeling better now,” said Patrick Okwaraji.

Pinnick went on to described Okwaraji as “a consummate professional.”

“It was a horrible day, for someone like me and several other Nigerians who were right inside the National Stadium, Lagos that day. By all accounts, Sam Okwaraji was a consummate professional and was a shining example of patriotic fervour,” Pinnick said.

Okwaraji died at the age of 25 while featuring for Nigeria in a 1990 Fifa World Cup qualifying match against Angola at the National Stadium in Lagos on August 12, 1989.

The former Nigerian international collapsed and died 13 minutes before the end of the match against Angola and reports later revealed that Okwaraji died of an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.

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