Pulse Sports highlights five things we must remember about late Super Eagles icon, Samuel Okwaraji who died 26 years ago today.
‘We owe God a death’ William Shakespeare once said.
26 years ago today, one of the Nigeria’s greatest footballers Samuel Okwaraji paid his debt of death while playing for his fatherland in a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere.
These are five things we must remember about him.
Place of birth:
Samuel Okwaraji was born on May, 19 1964 in Owerre-Umudioka in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo-State, South Eastern Nigeria.
Unlike most of his footballers, Okwaraji was well learned. He was also a qualified lawyer who had a master’s degree in international law from the University of Rome. He was also reportedly pursuing a doctorate degree before his untimely death.
Successful club career abroad
Before playing abroad became a thing, Samuel Okwaraji had already been there and done that. At a time where many Nigerian players were contended just playing in the Nigerian league, Samuel Okwaraji had a successful career abroad playing for big European clubs like NK Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, VfB Stuttgart in Germany and Austria Klagenfurt in Austria, among others.
He was very patriotic
Samuel Okwaraji paid the ultimate price while playing for his country, but before that he was paying other prices just to represent his country. He played a total of eight games for the Super Eagles and scored one goal 1988-'89. On several occasions he used his personal cash to fly himself down to Nigeria for national call-ups, and wouldn't’t even bothered to demand a refund from the then Nigeria Football Association (now NFF).
The federal Government of Nigeria like they have done with other aspects, have failed to recognize the legacy of the late icon. For a player that was very patriotic and who later died on national duties, it is a shame at how the federal government has ignored celebrating his legacy. The efforts of former Imo State governor Achike Udenwa -who named a stadium under him- and the former Lagos State governor Babatunde Fashola- who organized a memorial game and unveiled a concrete bust of the late midfielder in the Rededicated Memorial Garden in his honour in front of the same stadium where he died, to mark the 20th anniversary of his passing. The former governor also presented the sum of N1m to Samuel Okwaraji’s mother Mrs Jane.
Watch Samuel Okwaraji's elder brother, narrate how the late Super Eagles midfielder died, below: