Wednesday Jun 08, 2016. 06:25
Former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi died early Wednesday in Benin City of a suspected heart attack.
A family statement signed by brother and manager, Emmanuel Ado, confirmed Keshi's passing.
"Since her death, Keshi has been in mourning. He came back to Nigeria to be with her. He had planned to fly back (to the United States) today Wednesday, before he suffered a cardiac arrest. He has found rest. We thank God for his life," read the statement in part.
A friend said Keshi, 54, died suddenly.
“He was not ill at all, never showed any signs of illness, but we suspect he never got over the death of his wife,” a friend said.
Another close associate Tunde Soneye told AfricanFootball.com he last spoke to Keshi on Monday morning.
"He was well and we spoke on the Nigeria U23 match against Honduras being played in Korea and I later informed him of the final result. He was happy the team did not lose all three games at the tournament," Soneye said.
Last year, he lost his wife of 35 years Kate after a prolonged battle with cancer.
In 2013, Keshi became only the second man to captain and then coach his country’s team to win the Africa Cup of Nations.
He qualified the Super Eagles to the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He also qualified Togo to the 2006 World Cup and was in charge of Mali.
‘Big Boss’, as he was fondly nicknamed because of his charisma and leadership drive, sparked off an exodus of Nigerian players to Belgium in 1985, when he joined top club Anderlecht.
A commanding central defender, he also played for Strasbourg in France, Stade Abidjan as well as in Malaysia
He was lately linked with a coaching post in South Africa with Orlando Pirates among the clubs reported to be interested in hiring him.