By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
The torrents of tributes have continued to pour in for the memory of recently departed former captain and coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Mr. Stephen Keshi whose remains were interred last Friday.Â The latest is coming from across the border from a former goalkeeper for the Cameroonian national team, the Indomitable Lions, Mr. Joseph-Antoine “Jojo” Bell, who exoressed sadness over the shabby manner, the Federal Government treated him in death.
Bell who expressed sadness on Keshiâ€™s passage said he met the Delta State born footballer for the first time during the AFCON tournament held in Ivory Coast in 1984.
“I met Stephen for the first time at the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote D’Ivoire. He was the young captain of the Green Eagles (as the team was known at the time).â€ He said.
Going down memory lane, he continued, “Myself, Roger (Milla) and Stephen went to do a special radio programme for Africa No 1 (a big radio station from Gabon that broadcast in French to the entire continent) before the tournament final in Abidjan.
“Stephen, when questioned during this interview, said that he was determined that he was taking the trophy home to the people of Nigeria, who expected nothing less than the Cup. He was so confident during this interview.â€
According to the former goalkeeper, the Cameroonian team was jolted by Keshiâ€™s confidence, saying “When Roger and I heard him, we said to ourselves. How can this young man be so confident that he was going to be able to do what he said, when he was playing against us, players who had so much more experience and had featured at the World Cup in Spain, only two years before?
“We both felt that we had to watch out for this player. Even though we won the final and won Cameroon’s first major trophy in Abidjan, Stephen really showed his qualities as captain and I was not surprised that he became a very big player, a very big personality.â€ He stated.
Reacting to the treated meted out to Keshi, Bell stated, “Your account of what happened at the burial is sad. You mean the Nigerian government did not contribute any money towards the burial? How can this be possible?
“But I am not surprised. This is what keeps happening in Africa all the time. The more things change, the more they remain the same.â€ He said.