KESHI (noun): a word used to describe a state of unusual ability to transform lost hope to sudden victories… sentence example: The MALIANS have Just Been KESHIED. ~ Anonymous Nigerian
Stephen Okechukwu Keshi was born on January 23, 1962 in Lagos, Nigeria and hails from Ila, Delta State.
The man nicknamed “The Boss” started his career with ACB Lagos in 1979 before travelling to Ivory Coast, Belgium, France, USA and Malaysia to further his calling.
He was a disciplined midfielder cum defender. He played for Nigeria in five different African Cup of Nations tournament, captaining the team to glory in 1994 against Zambia. Although his game time was limited due to injuries, Augustine Eguavoen handed over the captain armband to him to lift the trophy at the blow of the final whistle.
Keshi also captained the Super Eagles to their maiden World Cup campaign in USA ’94 where they bowed out in the second round to a Roberto Baggio inspired Italy.
He played briefly for Perils FA in Malaysia before retiring in 1997. In 2000, The Nigerian Football Association organised a testimonial in his honour in Lagos.
He travelled down to the United States to do a coaching course after which he took the reins of Nigeria’s U-20 side in 2001 without success.
In 2004, he was appointed the coach of the Togolese National team and guided them to their first World Cup qualification in 2006 but he was sacked weeks before the mundial for Togo’s dismal performance at the 2006 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
He was re-appointed coach of Togo in 2007 in time for their friendly match against Cameroon but left a year later to take charge of the Malian National team.
He coached the Eagles for two years before receiving his P-45 (sack letter) in January 2010 after Mali’s early exit in the group stages of the African Cup of Nations.
Keshi was appointed the coach of Super Eagles on 2nd November 2011, taking over from his ex-team mate, Samson Siasia after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Keshi was criticised by the Nigerian media for his preference of home-based players over established internationals. He axed the likes of Osaze Odemwingie, Obafemi Marins, Obinna Nsofor and Taye Taiwo from his 2013 African Cup of Nations squad.
At the ongoing African Cup of Nations, he led the Super Eagles to consecutive draws against Burkina Faso and defending Champions, Zambia. Since then, they have comfortably defeated Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Mali to set up a final date with Burkina Faso on Sunday 9th February 2013.
Keshi is now one victory away from becoming the second man in the tournament’s 56-year history to win it as a player and coach. The only person to have achieved the feat is Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary, who won it in 1959 and 1998.