By Sab Osuji:
Former Nigeria goalkeeper, Ike Shorunmu has emotionally spoken of his relationship with late coach Stephen Keshi, describing him as a real man and true ‘Big Boss’ of Nigerian football and players, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Shorunmu who worked with the former Hawks of Togo gaffer, was very emotional when Completesportsnigeria.com caught up with him at Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan moments after Shooting Stars shutdown Enyimba 1-0 in a Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL match-day 22 tie.
“It is very difficult (for me) to say anything about this sad development because I got the shock of my life that Wednesday morning when first, I heard of Stephen Keshi (death) and again just Saturday morning the news of Shuaibu Amodu’s death filtered in,” Shorunmu told Completesportsnigeria.com.
“Within three days, is that not heartbreaking enough? I couldn't quite pull myself together, not even now as we speak. It’s difficult to take. I don't know what to say about these two great men. And I wonder, what's really going on? Can anyone offer an explanation?” Shorunmu asked rhetorically.
Shorunmu would go on to recall his working relationship with Keshi both as players and coaches in the national team, the Super Eagles.
“As a player, I played with Keshi. And as a coach, I also worked with Keshi. If I could hazard a peep into the years back, during our times together, as players, or as coaches, the moments we shared together, the relationship we enjoyed, for me to lose this great man now, it’s shocking, disheartening and difficult to take,” he mourns.
“It’s a situation you find yourself where you find it tough to accept its reality, but then, there you are; it’s the truth starring you in the face and you having no option than to accept, willingly or otherwise. It’s painful, I must say, that we’ve lost him and will miss him forever.
“When you talk of a real man, Keshi was one. When we were playing together, the kind of encouragement he gave to the team, his carriage, the charisma he showed to the team and his team mates was simply amazing.
“Now, he's gone and I doubt even in the years to come if we can still get a player with these qualities. If at all there will ever be, it will simply take time.
“Nigeria has indeed lost a great man and good leader in Keshi. Yes, no one can ever be 100 per cent, but the obvious fact still remains that Keshi was a leader and a boss, a big boss for that matter, on and off the pitch,” Shorunmu stressed while fighting off tears.
The former Besiktas of Turkey goaltender spared some thoughts about late Shuaibu Amodu who died 72 hours after Keshi, recalling his last encounter with the former BCC Lions of Gboko coach and former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.
“I remember I was the oldest player in the Super Eagles when Amodu was in-charge. With due respect, Amodu would call, 'Ike, my guy, come let's discuss some things'.
“To us, the big players in the team then, he cherished us so much. He had good rapport with us like a brother and with this, we gave him our utmost support. “But unfortunately, today, he's gone. My last encounter with him was in Port Harcourt during the Joseph Yobo Testimonial Match. “We were in the same hotel. He did a lot of funny things that day. He cracked his usual jokes with me. It was like a recap of our good old days in the national team.
“And one never knew it was apparently a sign of the end, an obvious final good bye that we never understood until Saturday morning when the news of his death broke,” Shorunmu recalled, trying to fight off tears that forced our chat to an abrupt end.