Nigerian football great Yisa Shofoluwe dies aged 53

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The icon, who was considered by many observers to be one of Super Eagles’ finest defenders ever, has died after a brief illness

Former Shooting Stars and Nigeria defender Yisa Shofoluwe has died, aged 53.

The Nigeria Football Federation confirmed that Shofoluwe, rated by many as one of the finest defenders in Super Eagles’ history, passed away at the Intensive Care Unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

He had been diagnosed few days ago with cerebral atrophy.

His former national team colleague Mutiu Adepoju took to social media to mourn his demise.

“Rest easy brother. You will be greatly missed,” Adepoju tweeted.

Nicknamed the ‘Dean of Defence’, Shofoluwe was part of the first Nigerian squad to feature at Fifa-organised championship – at the 1983 U20 World Cup in Mexico. There, Christopher Udemezue’s Flying Eagles crashed out in the first round following defeats to Brazil and then Soviet Union in Group D.

That same year, he won his first senior cap as the Super Eagles triumphed 4-3 over Morocco in a 1984 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against in Benin City, which ended goalless.

Alongside Stephen Keshi, Muda Lawal and Peter Rufai, he played a key role in the team’s expedition at the 1984 Afcon in Cote d’Ivoire, where Festus Onigbinde’s side bowed 3-1 to Cameroon in the final played at Abidjan’s Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny.

Before then, he scored his own penalty kick in the country’s 8-7 defeat of Egypt after the scores stood at 2-2 after extra time.

He also featured in the 1988 Afcon and racked up 40 international caps, with one goal to his credit, in the 3-1 defeat of Kenya in a 1986 World Cup qualification fixture.

On the professional scene, the former ITT FC, Abiola Babes and Gateway FC star won two Nigerian FA Cup diadems in 1985 and 1987.

“It is another sad, sad day. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were lamenting the loss of former goalkeeper and coach Joseph Erico. Now, Yisa Sofoluwe. That man was a gem in the green-and-white and did his very best for Nigeria whenever he was on the field. Personally, I have sweet memories of Yisa Sofoluwe,” NFF boss Amaju Pinnick wrote.

“It is more painful that he left just when help was coming to him from everywhere and the process was on to rectify his medical condition. We loved him but God loves him more. May his soul rest in peace.”





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