By: Oma Akatugba
Super Eagles and Mainz 105 FC Defender, Leon Balogun has paid a glowing tribute to former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, who passed away in June 2016 aged 54.
Balogun, while speaking with omasports said:
“I am very grateful to him for the chance he gave me (may his soul rest in peace). He was the one who brought me into the Super Eagles. He saw something in me, and from the first moment I was there, he gave me some kind of confidence. He did not put me up there but he spoke to me in a calm way, he gave me confidence, he said ‘look you going to play, you going to have your time’, just enjoy and keep doing what you do at your club” The 29-year-old German-born defender said.
Four years ago, and 12 months, Keshi became the second man to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and coach, ending the Eagles’ 19-year wait for a title with his AFCON triumph as a coach in 2013.
“And of course to Nigerians, he always was and would remain a legend, for the time he served the national team”, Balogun further said.
Keshi served the Nigerian national side for 14-years, during which he accrued 60 caps and won the African Nations Cup as well as representing Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup, USA 94.
The 29-year-old German-born defender, who made his debut for Nigeria in a March 2014 friendly against Mexico, replacing Joseph Yobo also spoke about Kesh’s personality and character
“I remember him always as a very calm person. he was not the type of guy who would scream so much, he was very calm and never said much but he knew what he was doing at all times”.
Stephen Keshi, the player spent time in Belgium, notably with Anderlecht, and then went on to enjoy stints as head coach with Togo and Mali. Qualifying the tiny West African nation for their first ever FIFA World Cup, Korea Japan 2002.
He passed away in June 2016 at the age of 54.