I feel a deep hurt at Keshi’s return. His children, his family, friends, fans and indeed all Nigerians Africans and the sports world are in sorrow but I think that Nigerians should sorry more for Nigeria than sorrow for Keshi.
In Keshi, we demonstrated, once again, our lack of discernment, our lack of understanding, our lack of appreciation, our disrespect and disregard for any thing of value.
Keshi was a comet, a meteor that comes to any nation perhaps once in centuries.
Keshi was an angel but we did not know. He was God sent to us, to help us find fulfillment in our aspiration in sports but we did not recognize him even as he proved it.
As a divine messenger, he had the Midas touch and he turned everything he touched into gold.
As captain of our national team, we all are in agreement that he was more than a player. The coaches conceded that he did more than just a captain and player, hence he was acknowledged as the big boss.
And so, under his captaincy, he transformed Nigeria’s football from mediocrity to such global zenith that could be difficult for Nigeria to attain again in centuries.
He did not only lead the Super Eagles to the World Cup for the first time, Nigeria was indeed ranked the fifth best soccer nation in the world. He impacted such strong character in the team that frightened and threatened the world of soccer. The great Pele declared that by such formidability and character, Nigeria could win the World Cup.
USA ’94 was historical just as Tunisia ’94 was. Underlying those success was the phenomenon of Keshi as “Captain Fantastic.”
Like an angel with the key of greatness, he opened the gates for Nigerian and African players to find fulfillment in the professional career of footballing.
Keshi did not go to Lokeren or Anderlecht just for himself, he went to open the way for a people, for he was not just “Big Boss”, he was Big Brother.
That done, the angel stepped foot in Togo and the history and recognition of Togo in the comity of nations changed forever. That small nation found itself in the World Cup, a feat that we pray it can still hope to achieve in all of its life.
Expectedly, that nation was not able to manage their fortune because they thought it was by their effort. They did not recognize that it was simply because they were touched by an angel.
The story is the same with Nigeria. After supporting Amodu Shuaibu and Joe Erico to qualify Nigeria to the 2002 World Cup in the face of the obvious failure of Bonfrere Joe, the coaching crew which included Keshi was thrown out in the shenanigans of official propaganda and high handedness.
The consequence was that Nigeria failed to qualify for the Germany 2006 World Cup. Nigeria’s loss became Togo’s gain because Angel Keshi took his grace there after the disappointment of Mali 2002.
Back in Nigeria, for the most part, the football authorities were in apparent rejection of Keshi. They feared him but they did not know exactly what they feared.
Once, they denied him the chance to lead the senior national team. They said he was too strong willed but that is what Angels are made of. Because, they are not mere mortals.
However, because God sent him, the gate was eventually opened for him to deliver on his mission. He came over at the point where we had failed to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup.
Keshi took over and went on to win the nation’s cup the following year, 2013. He performed the feat in style. The victory was not about foreign based players, it was about showcasing the inner power and grace of Nigerian football.
Keshi could use a Sunday Mba whom nobody recognizes today to achieve great things. Such is the nature of divinity.
After several failures, Keshi took over and qualified the home based players to CHAN for the first time ever and returned with a bronze. Even in finishing third, Nigeria’s display on that occasion continues to bewilder the world. But, it was angelic.
After the success of South Africa 2013 AFCON, the incubus of Nigeria’s rough politics and profanity of anything divine and of value reared its ugly head. Keshi had struggled through all that in South Africa to achieve victory because God’s will must be fulfilled.
But like God did to the Isrealites when they said they rejected his appointed king and wanted a king by their own election, God allowed the incubus to take hold of Nigerian football. This has been much exemplified by the endless squabbles for the control of the Glass House and the repeated failure to qualify again to the Nations Cup.
Angels don’t thrive in disorder. God’s work had been done, Keshi had proved himself, he had delivered and the people would be left deep in their perversion till such and such a time that God will have mercy.
The child of God has to be caught away. For Keshi, his mortal being felt disappointment and pain. But for God, the Angel had done his job and would not be left in the smear. He has to be taken back perhaps for same spirit to manifest in another form to take grace to perhaps other nations that may welcome it.
Talk not about naming some unkempt places to immortalize him. He is already immortalized in our hearts and history and records bear him witness. He proved that Nigeria is the champion of African football and can always still be if she does right.
He proved that Nigeria can be at the highest height of world football. He proved that young persons can find fulfillment in football as a career and earn meaningfully to bring good life to their families and communities.
With Togo, he proved that a shrub can also grow among the poplars.
He proved that a Nigerian can be a great person, such to make a case for indigenous professionals.
I see Keshi in a blaze of glory among his kindred angels of hope and greatness.
I weep not for him, for he has gone to his true home. I bid Keshi goodbye. I do not praise him. I do not write to bury him, for we lack the grace to bury angels.
My fear for Nigerian football is that the evil that men do they do unto themselves.