The iconic life of Stephen ‘The Big Boss’ Keshi in 13 photos

We remember Stephen Keshi for being one of the greatest sportsmen in Nigeria, both as a player and as a coach. Born in Bauchi State but Delta State by origin, Stephen Keshi started playing football at a young age.

His first international signing was with  Africa Sports FC in Cote d’Ivoire, before he proceeded to Belgium, where he played first, for Lokeren FC in 1986, and then, Anderlecht FC in 1987.

Stephen Keshi Anderlecht 1989


Keshi played for Nigeria from 1981 to 1995.

Stephen Keshi6 Seoul '88 Olympic qualifiers, January 1988


Keshi moved to R.W.D Molenbeek where he made only 40 appearances and was sacked because he chose to play for country over club.

Stephen Keshi2 1994


That same year, he etched his name in Nigerian history when he captained the national team to win the African Nations Cup for Nigeria in Tunisia.

Stephen Keshi

He is the fifth member of the ‘Golden Generation’ 1994 team to have passed away. The others are  Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and goalkeeper, Wilfred Agbonavbare.

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Keshi had three spells as coach of the Togo national team between 2004-2006, 2007-2008, and in 2011.

Stephen Keshi8 Togo


He also coached the Malian national team between 2008 and 2010.

Stephen Keshi Mali 2010


But then he took over as Coach of Nigeria’s senior team, from 2011.

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In 2013, he lifted the African Nations Cup again, only this time, as a coach.

Stephen Keshi3

He became the only other person, besides Egypt’s Mahmoud El-Gohary, to have lifted the trophy as player and manager.

Stephen Keshi4

In 2015, he lost his beloved wife of 33 years, Kate, to cancer.

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His friends say he never fully got over the loss, and in the early hours of Wednesday June 8, Stephen Keshi suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away in Benin City. He was aged 54.

Stephen Keshi5

The Big Boss will be remembered for his patriotism and immense contribution to the growth of Nigerian football.

Stephen Keshi8




When God was sharing chill, I was at the back of the line trying to start a fire.

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