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Uche Okafor death stuns Nigeria Football Federation

By Oluwashina Okeleji
BBC Sport, Lagos

Uche Okafor
Uche Okafor (left) was part of Nigeria's 1994 and 1998 World Cup squads

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has expressed shock over the death of former international Uche Okafor on Thursday in the United States.

The body of the ex-Super Eagles defender was found in his Texas apartment by his wife shortly after he returned home from dropping off his daughter in school.

"This is very, very sad. Mr. Uche Okafor served this country with distinction and we are taken aback by the nature of his demise." NFF secretary-general Musa Amadu said in a statement.

"All the same, at this time, we can only pray to God for repose of his gentle soul.

Okafor, 43, was in the Super Eagles for almost a decade, and was a key member of the squad when Nigeria won their second African Cup of Nations title, in Tunisia in 1994.

Okafor represented Nigeria at two World Cups.

He was in the Super Eagles squad at the 1994 World Cup in the United States - Nigeria's first appearance in the global tournament.

He also played at the 1998 World Cup in France when Nigeria reached the second round.

"It came as a rude shock because Uche (Okafor) had gradually become a player some youngsters want to emulate," Ben Iroha who played with the late Okafor told BBC Sport.

"He was an articulate, smart and gentle man on and off the field.

"We will all miss him greatly."

Uche played for his home club ACB Lagos before moving to Belgian where he played for Mechelen and Namur.

He also played for clubs in France, Portugal and Israel before ending his career with American outfit Kansas City Wizards.

Since retiring from the game, Okafor has remained part of the game off-field.

Okafor was a representative of sport kit manufactures NIKE before creating a niche for himself as a football analyst on the international scene.

Just last month, he signed a contract with American television station ESPN as an African football expert.

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