Players and match officials of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) will put on black arm bands to honour a former coach of prominent NPFL clubs, Kelechi Emeteole who passed on in the early hours of Wednesday,June 21 2017.
Emeteole, nicknamed ‘Caterpillar’ in his playing days for various league clubs in the country died in India where he was receiving treatment for throat cancer.
The former Rangers and Heartland coach was diagnosed of a disease In March 2017.
Emeteole was also a former Nigerian international winning 17 caps and scoring 4 goals for the then Green Eagles.
He remained one of the most respected coaches on the local front as he had served as the Assistant coach for the Golden Eaglets(U17 World Cup in China, 1985) and Flying Eagles.(Canada, 1987) and later became the coach to the Beach soccer team otherwise known as the Super Sand Eagles.
Emetoele also coached Heartland of Owerri to a CAF Champions League final in 2009 where they narrowly lost to Tp mazembe.
He was a pioneer player in the club,rose to become the Captain and subsequently became player/coach.
He also managed El kanemi warriors,helped them return to NPFL rising all the way from Division 3 through to the Division two and to the defunct Nigeria Football League. He also had a stints at Rangers international.
Kelechi Emetoele spoke all three major languages in Nigeria, was 66 years old. Survived by a wife and children
Shehu Dikko, the Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC) expressed grief at the demise of the Coach who in addition to managing several league clubs also worked with national teams including the Super Eagles, the Flying Eagles, the Golden Eaglets and the Beach Soccer team, otherwise called the Super Sand Eagles.
“The passing on of Coach Emeteole is a great loss to the NPFL because he was a coach that has been very prominent in the league coaching teams and raising some of the players who have made this country proud.
He was a true Nigerian who played football and worked with clubs across the states, speaking all three Nigerian major languages”, remarked Dikko.
After retiring from active football with the then Spartans of Owerri, Emeteole took to coaching and remarkably helped El-Kanemi Warriors return to the NPFL rising all the way from the then Division 3 through to the Division two and to the defunct Nigeria Football League. A prominent protégé of his time at the Borno side is Enyimba International FC's Ikechukwu Ibenegbu who had gone on to represent Nigeria at the senior level and the Beach Soccer championships.
The late Emeteole also had repeat stints at Heartland FC of Owerri and Rangers International.
The LMC has therefore directed that a minute silence be observed across all NPFL venues on Saturday, June 24 and on Wednesday, June 28 for the Match Day 26 fixtures.
According to Dikko, “Emeteole deserves all the honour we can accord him at this time.
We commiserate with his family and pray that God wcill grant them the fortitude to pass through this trying time in their family”.
Story by Odunayo Ruth Hassan