Late Stephen Keshi

Togo honour Stephen Keshi with memorial match

Togo honoured former coach Stephen Keshi, who died in June, by playing a tribute match on Sunday.

Nigerian Keshi, who died suddenly aged 54, was appointed head coach of Togo three times between 2004 and 2011.

The match in Lome was played between the current Togo national side and ‘Team Keshi’, made up of players who were part of his 2006 squad.

“Keshi was like a big brother for me,” said striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who played for Team Keshi.

“He was somebody that I respected a lot and I have to give him a lot of credit because when he joined the Togolese national team he believed in me.

“He was for the first time looking into my eyes and told me how good I was and how good I could become.

“I just listened to his advice because he was a former footballer. Listening to his advice helped me a lot and today I am where I am because of that of that.

“May his soul rest in a perfect peace and let’s us keep on remembering him in our prayers.”

Keshi will be most widely remembered for his feats with Nigeria, both as an Africa Cup of Nations-winning player and coach.

But he also will be associated deeply with Togo, who gave him his first coaching job – and he pulled off a remarkable achievement to qualify them for the 2006 World Cup finals, ahead of Senegal and Zambia.

However, he was sacked by Togo just a few months before the tournament in Germany.

Keshi returned for two more spells – appointed in 2007 and 2011 – but was unable to repeat his earlier success with the Hawks.

More than 20,000 fans were in attendance at the Ominsports stadium in Lome to watch the game, which finished 6-2 to the current Togo national side.

After the match. Adebayor told the crowd: “I would like to pay tribute to him and I hope that the family he left behind will find the needed faith and strength to overcome this period.”

Abalo Dosseh, deputy coach and former captain of Togo, told BBC Sport: “It is an honour for me to stand on this pitch in remembrance of Big Boss. He has done a lot for Togolese football and the entire continent.

“I always remember the day I asked to captain the team for the first time and we were also lucky to make the same year to the World Cup.

“All the former players and others who are still playing have come to pay tribute to him.”

Togolose former player Olufade Adekambi, who also played alongside Keshi, added: “We thank God that he did many good things for Togo. We are still mourning him because he was like a big brother, a coach and a big man.”

CREDIT BBC

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