SPORT: Football: I told people I’would marry Okwaraji –Female fan

A female football fan, Mrs. Florence Olatunji, has said that she was very attracted to late Nigerian footballer Samuel Okwaraji and even told people she was going to marry him, Sunday PUNCH reports.

Olatunji, now a grandmother in her late 60s, said even though she was not a football fan, she admired Okwaraji.

“Okwaraji was a great man among men. Many people talk about his football skills and yes, he was good, but he was also a fine man, and his hair was very nice to look at,” she said….CONTINUE READING

Olatunji told Sunday PUNCH about how Okwaraji was admired among women back in the late 80s confessing that she wanted to marry the midfielder.

Her voice laden with nostalgia, Olatunji shares her vivid recollections of the late 80s when Okwaraji was revered not only for his athletic prowess but also for his striking allure that set many hearts aflutter, including hers.

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“Many women then would talk about how fine he was, there was even a time I told others I would marry him. He was the best Nigerian player ever for me, no one else can be like Okwaraji,” she told Sunday PUNCH.

It’s been 34 years since Okwaraji collapsed on the pitch and died while playing for Nigeria in a 1990 World Cup qualifier in Lagos.

The highly skilful footballer slumped in the 77th minute during the Super Eagles’ World Cup qualifier game against Angola on August 12, 1989 at the National Stadium, Lagos and was rushed to hospital where he finally passed on.

The Nigerian, who was a player for the K. Berchem Sport club in Antwerp, was later reported to have passed away from potential hypertrophic cardiomyopathy issues after an autopsy revealed that he had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.

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About five fans died the same day at the overcrowded 40,000-capacity stadium, as the Eagles won the 1990 World Cup qualifier 1-0 under chaotic conditions.

Born May 19, 1964, in Orlu, Imo State, Okwaraji exhibited exceptional talent from an early age. As he grew, his passion for both education and football blossomed.

His journey took him from his hometown to Europe, where he pursued higher education while simultaneously pursuing his football dreams.

Okwaraji held a master’s degree in International Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, demonstrating his intellectual prowess alongside his athletic abilities.

Okwaraji’s football career took off in Europe, playing for several clubs including Dinamo Zagreb in Yugoslavia (now Croatia), Austria Klagenfurt, VfB Stuttgart in Germany, and SSV Ulm 1846. He was known for his versatility and played as a midfielder.

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What stood out was not just the loss of a talented footballer, but the legacy he left behind. Okwaraji’s commitment to his team, his country and his dreams became an enduring source of inspiration. Reports at the time said he paid his flight tickets to represent his country.

His sacrifice on the pitch became a powerful reminder of the importance of pursuing one’s passions, no matter the obstacles.

As the years passed, Okwaraji’s legacy continued to thrive. His determination to excel, his commitment to education and his love for football remained etched in the annals of history….CONTINUE READING