Things may have played out against him, he may have been ridiculed and his reign as the Super Eagles head coach may have been brought to an abrupt end but the fact that nobody can deny is that the immediate past national team handler, Stephen Keshi remains a hero of Nigerian football.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in its usual manner fulfilled its ambition of getting rid of the coach who had long before his sack, became a thorn in the flesh of some board members of the federation, who were uncomfortable seeing his face.
Now that Keshi is gone, those who did the hatchet job of seeing to his unceremonious exit should by now be jumping that their most wanted enemy has been dealt with, this time around for sure because the first ‘’coup’ planned against the ex international failed to materialize. He was sacked but later reinstated by the then President Goddluck Jonathan.
One thing is however certain, Stephen Keshi, whom these people thought they have successfully dealt with remains a hero, a legend who Nigerians will never forget.
The man fondly called the Big Boss, due to his leadership traits while playing holds enviable successes which none of the occupants of the Glass House can boast of, as far as the round leather game is concerned.
A look at just a few of his achievements as a player and later as a coach, then you will have no choice than to agree that he is indeed the ‘Star’ of Nigerian football, even if you hate him so much, at least, these achievements should soften your heart a little bit.
Keshi, who made his way into the senior national team at a very young age, remained one of the players to have served this country for a very long period as a player. He ended his glorious days as a player by not only becoming the captain of the team, but the longest to wear the captains’ arm band. Only God knows if such player with such a record will emerge again. His tremendous playing days were capped with successes. With the Big Boss, directing affairs on the pitch (kudos to Clemens Westerhof, who described him as the coach on the field), the Eagles won bronze and silver in the Nations Cup, ultimately winning the trophy in 1994, a time that age was taking its toll on the libero.
Keshi was the captain of the first set of Super Eagles to qualify and feature at the FIFA World Cup which had before then, remained elusive to the country.
Keshi was the player that opened the gate for Nigerian players’ sojourn in foreign leagues. He remained one of the few Nigerian players to have played for top clubs in Europe.
As a coach, he is not a failure. He became the first Nigerian coach to lift the Nations Cup in 2013, the first indigenous handler to lead the Eagles to a second round appearance at the mundial (Brazil 2014). Outside the shores of the country, he made history by becoming the first coach to pick a World Cup ticket for Togo.
Many people believe that nothing good can come from the local league, but Keshi was able to prove them wrong by exposing the talents in players plying their trades in the domestic league. Take it or leave it, the history of Nigerian football, particularly on the positive side, will never be complete without the mentioning of the name, Stephen Okeychukwu Keshi, the Big Boss.