The Nigeria Football Federation has perfected plans to unveil the portrait of late Nigerian footballer Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji at all the eight venues where the quarter-final of the Federation Cup will be played this evening – Enugu, Benin City, Neros Stadium, Oleh, Lokoja, Abuja, Ilorin and Makurdi.
Making the revelation yesterday, on the eve of Okwaraji’s 26th year remembrance, the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, praised the patriotism and professionalism of the player who died on August 12, 1989 while playing for the Senior National Team in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Angola at the National Stadium, Lagos.
Pinnick, who spoke to the late soccer star’s mother, Lady Jane Okwaraji, over the phone, described him as “a star for Nigeria, a name that no one has been able to forget no matter how much they tried. He was the quintessential professional and patriot per excellence.
“Rest assured that Sochukwuma will continue to be in our hearts and consciousness. He was a rare gem. I assure you that the NFF will continue to keep in touch with you.”
Pinnick recalled that as a young boy, he was at the National Stadium, where he saw the star slum while playing on the pitch.
Also, NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, confessed to being one of the spectators on that day.
Okwaraji, a doctorate degree student of law, slumped 13 minutes to the end of the match and was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.
His brother, Patrick Okwaraji, described Amaju’s call as “soothing”.
“We are grateful to the NFF President for his phone call. At least, Mama is feeling better now.”