Samuel Okwaraji

Samuel Okwaraji
Samuel Okwaraji. Photo: Premium Times NG

Samuel Okwaraji, Nigerian midfielder who slumped and died on August 12, 1989 while playing for the Super Eagles in a crucial 1990 World Cup qualifying match between Nigeria and Angola at the main bowl of the National Stadium, Lagos. Okwaraji who had a Masters Degree in International Law (LLM) from the University of Rome, was described in superlative terms and was generally accepted as exemplary throughout his international football career. His patriotism was on display also with his insistence on offering his services even while the rest of the team bickered over unpaid bonuses. Okwaraji, originating from Orlu, was born in 1963.

Okwaraji arrived on the Nigerian football scene in a spectacular manner. He was not known or invited for the match through which his skill was discovered. He was given a chance to train with the team after he was introduced by former international, Benjy Nzeakor. Okwaraji became the cynosure of all eyes and hugged the sports pages, days before the match, ahead of other reputed stars due to his extra ordinary football skills. January 30, 1988 match day provided Okwaraji an opportunity to engrave his name into the minds of fans at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium as he produced the Man of the Match performance. He became the hero they have been waiting for[i].
[i] Westerner August 17, 2009

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer