Stephen Keshi, Former Nigeria Manager and Player, Dies at Age 54

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2016

Nigeria Nigeria's coach Stephen Keshi looks on during the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Nigeria and Sudan on October 15, 2014 in Abuja. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI        (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/Getty Images

Stephen Keshi, a former Nigerian soccer star and head coach of the country's national team, died Wednesday at the age of 54. The Nigeria Football Federation confirmed the news on Twitter.  

According to ESPNFC.comKeshi died of cardiac arrest. 

Keshi occupies a special place in African soccer lore. According to Nigerian newspaper the Cable, Keshi is one of just two people in history to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and a coach. The other is Mahmoud El-Gohary of Egypt, who died in 2012. 

A standout defender, Keshi was a guiding force on Nigeria's national team throughout his prime. One of the seminal moments of his playing career came in 1994 when he helped lead the Super Eagles to their second Africa Cup of Nations title. Nineteen years later, Keshi coached Nigeria to its third Africa Cup of Nations championship with a 1-0 triumph over Burkina Faso.

In 2014, Keshi guided Nigeria out of Group F play at the World Cup and into the knockout rounds for the first time since 1998. According to BBC.com, "The achievement also made Keshi the first African coach to lead the Super Eagles past the group stage."

Before Keshi served as Nigeria's head coach, he briefly held down posts as the head coach of both Togo and Mali's national teams. 

According to FIFA.com, Keshi tallied 20 wins, nine draws and eight losses as a coach in all FIFA tournaments. All told, he made 64 career appearances for the Super Eagles from 1981-1995, per Sports Illustrated.