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Samuel Okwaraji 5 things late Super Eagles icon must be remembered for

Pulse Sports highlights five things we must remember about late Super Eagles icon, Samuel Okwaraji who died 26 years ago today.

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  play Samuel Okwaraji: 1964- 1989 (Telegraph)
Samuel Okwaraji play

Samuel Okwaraji


‘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.

Well Learned

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.

#SPOTD - The Green Eagles team of 1988: Ademola Adesina, Sunday Eboigbe, Samuel Okwarawaji, Stephen Keshi, Peter Rufai and Coach Yussuf Salami. play Sam Okwaraji, Stephen Keshi, Rufai back in the day (Pulse)


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).

His Legacy

  play Babatunde Fashola unveiling Samuel Okwaraji's statue in Lagos (Afriwall)


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:

Samuel Okwaraji's elder brother describes how the late midfielder died

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