Google has chosen celebrates Nigerian football icon, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, on the occasion of his 56th birthday.
The tech company honours the late Nigerian senior national team football coach with a doodle image.
The doodle image displayed on its search engine will be seen across Africa if not the world at least till midnight today.
In 2017, you would recall that the internet tech company dressed its search engine in the doodle image of Keshi to mark his 55th birthday.
In a statement made available, Google Africa stated that Keshi who won two Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles, one as a player and the other as a coach, but died of cardiac arrest on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, deserves to be “Remembered”.
Keshi’s death was a huge and devastating loss to Nigerian football having captained the Super Eagles before managing them later on in his career.
Country Manager of Google Nigeria, Juliet Ehimuan Chiazor, took to the social media to lend her voice too.
Chiazor wrote that the beautiful game took Keshi all over the world, as a player and coach. He achieved his personal dream in 2011, when he became the Nigerian national coach, cementing his place in African (and world) football history.
“Coaching the Nigerian team, Keshi won the African Cup of Nations in 2013, and in 2014 became the first coach of an African nation to make it to the knockout round of a World Cup. #StephenKeshi #GoogleDoodle”, she posted.
The late Keshi was born on 23 January 1962. He started out with St. Finbarr’s College, Lagos and featured for domestic club sides ACB Football Club and New Nigeria Bank.
With New Nigeria Bank he won the West African Club Championship twice in 1983, 1984 before moving abroad to Cote d’Ivoire.
He was one of the first Nigerian players to move abroad, playing for Stade d’Abidjan and Africa Sports.
For African Sports, he won Côte d’Ivoire Premier Division and Cote d’Ivoire Coupe double in 1986 before making his way to Belgium where he played for Lokeren, Anderlecht, RC Strasbourg, among many others.
At Anderlecht, he won the Belgian Cup twice in 1988, 1989 and the Jupiler League in 1991.
His 20-year playing career included stints in Belgium, France, the United States and finally in Malaysia, with Perlis FA.
‘The Big Boss’, as he was fondly called, made his first appearance for the Super Eagles in 1981 at age 20 and the central defender retired in 1994 after picking up 64 caps.
He scored nine goals and captained the Super Eagles to their second AFCON title in Tunisia 94. He also led Nigeria to their first ever FIFA World Cup in USA where they were knocked out by Italy in the second round.
Keshi won the AFCON as a player in 1994 (BBC Sports)
At the end of his playing Career, Keshi headed to the United States to get his coaching badges.
He was part of the coaching staff for the Nigerian national team on several fronts, including being the head coach for the Junior Eagles at the 2001 African Youth Championship.
Keshi was coach of the Togo national football team from 2004 and 2006, during which time he surprisingly guided them to their first-ever FIFA World Cup appearance in Germany 2006, the first ever Nigerian coach to achieve that feat.
In 2011 he was appointed coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, leading the country to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
He became only the second person-first was Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary- to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and coach.
He led Nigeria to 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil became the African coach to reach the knockout stage where they fell to France in the Round of 16.
‘Big Boss’ is also the only African coach to have qualified for the World Cup with two African nations-Togo and Nigeria.
He was buried on Saturday, July 30.
A big cheer for this football legend, on what would have been his 56th birthday!