Stephen Keshi: Why Google honours him today

Known as the ‘Big Boss’ and hailed as Nigeria’s football icon, Stephen Keshi would have been 56 on Tuesday.

Stephen Kesh
Keshi was one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations tournament as both a player and coach [Getty Images]

Nigerian football icon Stephen “Big Boss” Keshi is being honoured by Google on what would have been his 56th birthday. 

The search engine changed its logo in Nigeria on Tuesday to an illustration of the legendary sports star. 

Keshi was one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations as both a player and coach. 

But the later part of his career was described as turbulent by some after quitting over unpaid wages and later being sacked. This is his story:

Big boss

  • Born in Azare, Nigeria in 1962, Keshi started his football career as a defender, and was among the first Nigerians to play professional football abroad.

  • He developed his career and passion in mainly Belgian clubs. He was later educated in the US as a coach.

  • He was known as the “Big Boss” because of his leadership drive. He played for the Nigerian National team at the FIFA World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations, where he took home the title in 1994. 


Unpaid wages 

  • Coaching. In 2006, Keshi, as manager, led Togo to qualify for its first FIFA World Cup. But he left the team before the tournament and was replaced by Otto Pfister.

  • In 2011, he began coaching the national team of his native Nigeria. He led the team to a victory at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013, becoming one of only two people to win the tournament as both a player and a coach.

  • In 2014, he temporarily quit the team after a dispute with the Nigerian football authority over unpaid wages and poor treatment.

  • He later rejoined the team as an interim manager during the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

  • Sacked. In 2014, Keshi was sacked and later reinstalled, only after intervention from then-Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan.

  • In a 2014 interview with Al Jazeera, Keshi said that in order to be able to be on his team you need to work hard, adding that “there are no guaranteed shirts for anyone”. 

  • In 2016, Keshi suffered a heart attack and died en route to the hospital in Benin City, Nigeria. He was 54 years old.  

There are no guaranteed shirts for anyone. You have to work hard to play for me

by Stephen Keshi

Source: Al Jazeera