Former Nigeria international and an assistant coach of the Super Eagles Kelechi Emeteole has passed on at the age of 66, Extrasportsnigeria.com reports.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said on their website on Wednesday that Emeteole “died in the early hours of Wednesday in India where he had gone for surgery for throat cancer.”
NFF General Secretary Dr Mohammed Sanusi described the death of the former defender as “a rude shock” linking it to the sad reminder of the deaths of former Nigeria coaches, Stephen Keshi and Shaibu Amodu who died in 2016 just one week apart from each other.
On thenff.com Sanusi wrote, “The death of Mr Kelechi Emeteole came to us as a rude shock. A year ago, we lost two legends in the persons of Stephen Keshi and Shaibu Amodu in the month of June. This year, also in the month of June, we have now lost another legend who served the nation creditably, energetically and meritoriously.
“Our hearts go out to his caring family that he has now left: his doting wife and children as well as relations. We pray that they will have the fortitude to bear the loss. We also pray that the soul of the departed finds eternal rest. Nigerian Football will miss him dearly.”
The League Management Company (LMC), which oversees the running of the Nigeria league where The Caterpillar was a part of also expressed “heartfelt condolences” to the family of Emeteole.
Emeteole was a member of the Nigerian men’s national team that finished third at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia, and then later assistant coach of the Eagles.
‘Caterpillar’, as Emeteole was known for his rugged defensive style, made 17 appearances for Nigeria and scored four goals. He also worked as coach at Heartland, Enugu Rangers and El-Kanemi Warriors as well as with the country’s beach soccer national team.