Stephen Okechukwu Keshi CON (23 January 1962 – 7 June 2016) was a Nigerian football player and manager.

Stephen Keshi
Personal information
Full name Stephen Okechukwu Keshi
Date of birth (1962-01-23)23 January 1962[1][2]
Place of birth Azare, Bauchi State, Nigeria
Date of death 7 June 2016(2016-06-07) (aged 54)
Place of death Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
Height 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Position(s) Defender
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1979 ACB Lagos 10 (1)
1980–1984 New Nigeria Bank 42 (4)
1985 Stade d'Abidjan 13 (2)
1986 Africa Sports 22 (2)
1986–1987 Lokeren 28 (6)
1987–1991 Anderlecht 99 (18)
1991–1993 Strasbourg 62 (9)
1993–1994 RWDM 40 (1)
1995 CCV Hydra 20 (1)
1996 Sacramento Scorpions 16 (3)
1997–1998 Perlis FA 34 (4)
Total 386 (51)
International career
1981–1995 Nigeria 64 (9)
Managerial career
2004–2006 Togo
2007–2008 Togo
2008–2010 Mali
2011 Togo
2011–2014 Nigeria
2015 Nigeria
Medal record
Men's football
Representing  Nigeria (as player)
Africa Cup of Nations
Winner 1994
Representing  Nigeria (as manager)
Winner 2013
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

During his playing career, Keshi played as a defender and earned 60 caps for the Nigeria national team, making him the nation's second-most capped player at the time of his retirement. He represented the country at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, captaining the Super Eagles to victory in the latter. He also played club football in five countries, most notably Belgium, where he won the Belgian league championship with R.S.C. Anderlecht in 1991.[3]

As a manager, Keshi achieved success by qualifying Togo for the only FIFA World Cup appearance in its history in 2006.[4] However, he left the position prior to the 2006 tournament and was replaced by Otto Pfister. He later coached his native Nigeria, becoming one of only two people, along with Egypt's Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have won the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and a coach.[5]

Playing career


After a playing career mostly with Belgian clubs, where he won the Belgian league championship with R.S.C. Anderlecht in 1991.[citation needed] Keshi went to the United States to be educated in coaching.[citation needed]

Coaching career


In 1996, he was joined by Augustine Eguavoen, who once coached the Nigerian national team. They played together in California as the backbone of the defence for the short-lived Sacramento Scorpions. Keshi has been a part of the coaching staff for the Nigerian national team, most notably as head coach for the Junior Eagles at the 2001 African Youth Championship which also served as qualification for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, without success.[6]

Between 2004 and 2006 Keshi coached the Togo national team,[7] surprisingly bringing them to their first World Cup tournament, Germany 2006. Having secured Togo's unlikely qualification, he was promptly replaced by German coach Otto Pfister prior to the World Cup finals, after Togo showed a dismal performance and failed to advance to the knock-out stage in 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.[8] However, Pfister did not last beyond a controversial World Cup campaign that nearly resulted in a player's strike over pay and Togo remained without a manager until February 2007 when they re-engaged Keshi in time for a friendly against Cameroon.[9]

He worked as manager of the Mali national team, after being appointed in April 2008 on a two-year deal.[10] Keshi was sacked in January 2010, after Mali's early exit in the group stages of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations.[11]

Nigeria national team


Keshi became coach of the Nigeria national team in 2011.[12][13] He led Nigeria to qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which they went on to win, defeating Burkina Faso 1–0 in the final.[14] The following day Keshi handed in his resignation,[15] only to reverse his decision the day after.[16] Keshi led Nigeria to the 2013 Confederations Cup, defeated Tahiti 6–1, and lost 2–1 to Uruguay in the second game, and also lost 3–0 to World Cup winners, Spain in their final group game.

On 16 November 2013, Keshi's Nigeria secured qualification to the 2014 World Cup by beating Ethiopia 4–1 on aggregate in a play-off.[17] Keshi set a record in African football by being the first African coach to qualify two African nations (Nigeria and Togo) for the World Cup Finals in 2005 and in 2013. He also helped Nigeria become the first country to achieve an African Cup of Nations trophy and World Cup qualification, both in 2013.[18]

Nigeria progressed to the knockout stage of 2014 World Cup. They started the tournament with a 0–0 draw against Iran, followed by a controversial 1–0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. They lost the final group stage match 3–2 against Argentina, but progressed to the knockout stage, courtesy of a 3–1 win by Bosnia and Herzegovina over Iran. The Super Eagles lost to France in the first knock-out round. After the match, Keshi announced his resignation as Super Eagles coach[19] but later reversed the decision after the Nigerian Football Federation renewed his contract.[20]

His team failed to win a single game in the Morocco 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifying series and he announced he would move to another job if pressure continues to mount because of certain people, whom he refused to name, were trying to "sabotage" him. However, he stated that he will continue to coach the Super Eagles because he loves the team and he loves his country.[21]

In July 2014, following Nigeria's exit from the World Cup, Keshi's contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expired and was not renewed.[22] A statement by the NFF Executive Committee said the decision was made, having thoroughly reviewed the reports/findings of the NFF Disciplinary Committee and NFF Technical and Development Committee, as well as having reviewed the actions and inaction of Stephen Keshi, in the performance of his duties as Super Eagles' Head Coach, which NFF found to lack the required commitment to achieve the Federation's objectives as set out in the Coach's employment contract.[23]

Personal life


Keshi was born on 23 January 1962 in Azare, Bauchi State. He hailed from Illah in Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State and was of Igbo descent. Keshi had his early education at Saint Paul's Catholic Nursery and Primary School, Apapa Road, Lagos State. He proceeded to Saint Finbarrs’ College, Akoka, Lagos in 1976.[24] Keshi was married to Kate (née Aburime) for 30 years. She died on 10 December 2015, after battling cancer for three years. They had four children. Their oldest son Kos Keshi played football professionally.[25]

Keshi had a heart attack and died en route to hospital on 7 June 2016 in Benin City, aged 54. His wife had died the previous December.[26]



Keshi was honoured by Google with a doodle on what would have been his 56th birthday.[27]



New Nigeria Bank

Stade d'Abidjan

'Africa Sports










  1. ^ "FIFA Player Statistics: Stephen KESHI". Archived from the original on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2016. Date Of Birth 23 Jan 1962
  2. ^ "14 things you didn't know about Stephen Keshi". Punch. 8 June 2016. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. He was born on January 23, 1962.
  3. ^ "Stephen Keshi will be remembered as an African pioneer". BBC. 8 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Time for change in African football?". BBC. 24 May 2005. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  5. ^ "Google celebrates Stephen Keshi on posthumous birthday | Premium Times Nigeria". 23 January 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Former Coach Stephen Keshi Dies at 54 – – Breaking News, Nigeria, Africa, Worldwide". Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Nigeria's football 'Big Boss' remembered". Retrieved 4 March 2022.
  8. ^ "STEPHEN KESHI: SUCCESS IN FOOTBALL". Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Who will be the next Amavubi boss?". The New Times | Rwanda. 7 October 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Keshi opts for Mali national team". BBC. 2 April 2008. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
  11. ^ "Stephen Keshi sacked as Mali boss". BBC. 28 January 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  12. ^ "NFF to Announce Keshi as Eagles Coach". 2 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Stephen Keshi confident of Super Eagles revival". BBC Sport. 3 November 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Nigeria v Burkina Faso – as it happened". Guardian UK. 10 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi hands in resignation one day after winning African title". 9 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Nigeria's Stephen Keshi reverses resignation and opts to stay on". Guardian UK. 12 February 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  17. ^ "World Cup 2014: Nigeria beat Ethiopia to book berth in Brazil". BBC. 16 November 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2013.
  18. ^ "Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (23 January 1962–8 June 2016)". Vanguard News. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  19. ^ "Breaking News! Keshi Resigns, Yobo retires from Super Eagles". NNP. 30 June 2014. Archived from the original on 18 July 2014. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  20. ^ Okeleji, Oluwashina (22 August 2014). "Keshi 'moves on' from talks to return as Nigeria coach". BBC Sport. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Stephen Okechukwu Keshi - Football Legend". LifeAndTimes News. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Stephen Keshi: Nigeria did not renew my contract". BBC Sport. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  23. ^ "NFF fires Keshi as Super Eagles coach". Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  24. ^ Oyibode, Austin (September 2016). "Life and times of late Stephen Okechukwu Keshi". Naij. Lagos.
  25. ^ Keshi Buries Wife January 15 In Benin
  26. ^ "Stephen Keshi: brawler, talker and most successful black African coach of all time". The Guardian. 8 June 2016. Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016. The former Nigeria and Togo manager, who died on Tuesday evening aged just 54... [...] Keshi, who died on Tuesday evening [7 June 2016] aged just 54 [indicates he was born 1962]...
  27. ^ "Google celebrates Stephen Keshi". The Guardian. 23 January 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  28. ^ "Football-The Story | Stephen Keshi".
  29. ^ "Football-The Story | Luc Nilis".
  30. ^ "European Competitions 1989-90".
  31. ^ "Winnaars Brugse Metten".
  32. ^ "Keshi is Coach of the Year - Football News - CAF". Retrieved 17 May 2014.
  33. ^ Okeleji, Oluwashina (13 February 2013). "Presidential reward for Super Eagles". Sport. BBC. Lagos. Retrieved 19 March 2024.