Samuel Okwaraji should have been alive today and possibly looking ahead to educating youths on what had been a long and illustrious career at the top level of European football.
He was a player destined for greatness, a player fans were convinced would have gone on to become one of the all time greats in Nigeria.
But instead Okwaraji’s story remains one of the most heartbreaking moment recorded in Nigerian football. He was a star with the world at his feet until his life was cruelly cut short.
The Super Eagles midfielder collapsed 10 minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos.
He died from possible complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as an autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
Not just a footballer, Okwaraji valued education so much. He was a certified lawyer, who had a masters in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.
Born in Orlu, the determined enforcer had his professional stints at AS Roma, NK Dinamo Zagreb, Austria Klagenfurt, VfB Stuttgart and SSV Ulm 1846.
Samuel Okwaraji fought for the Nigerian badge, he is truly a patriot who should be celebrated for life.
1989 like yesterday. Those saddled with football in Nigeria just erected a statue in his memory. Is this good enough?