The No. 6 jersey worn by late Nigerian footballer Samuel Okwaraji on the day he died will be retired, president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick announced on the 31st anniversary of the player’s death.
The former Dinamo Zagreb midfielder slumped and later died while playing for Nigeria in a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos on 12th August, 1989.
On the 31st anniversary of his demise on Wednesday, Pinnick said a proposal to retire the No. 6 jersey Okwaraji wore on the day of his death while playing for the Green Eagles (now Super Eagles) will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the NFF for onward approval and implementation, describing the fallen star as a ‘great patriot’.
The move is aimed at honouring and immortalizing Okwaraji, whose commitment and patriotism have been hailed by football followers around the country.
“Somebody made that proposal to us earlier in the year about retiring that shirt, and I think it would not be too much for us to do that,” the NFF boss told Kennis 104.1 FM.
“I think I will now forward the proposal to my executive committee for us to implement because it has been said already for us to see how we can implement retiring that shirt for that great patriot called Sam Okwaraji. We will do something about it; that one is certain,” he promised.
The late midfield maestro, who had a masters degree in international law, died aged 25, leaving behind a couple of siblings and his mother, Janet who passed on two months ago at the ripe age of 83.
Before her demise, Pinnick disclosed that he was annually keeping in touch with the matriarch.
He said: “Before his mom passed earlier this year, I use to call her every year on this fateful day (12 August), but God knows best, God knows best, that’s the truth.”
In a short international career that lasted only one year, Okwaraji made 8 appearances for Nigeria, scoring once – a stunner against Cameroon in the group stage of the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Morocco, as the Indomitable Lions held the Green Eagles to a 1-1 draw .