Nigeria’s legend and football hero, Christian Chukwu, is angry with those spreading rumour of his death. There were social media reports on Saturday evening that the former Green Eagles team captain may have succumbed to his long battle with prostrate cancer.
But Chukwu told The Guardian in a telephone conversation that he was hale and hearty, adding: “I was shocked, when people started calling me to say that the news was everywhere that my ‘enemy’ is dead. Why will somebody just sit in his house and wish me dead? I’m alive, and I don’t know where those people got their information. Those spreading the rumour of my death will die before me.”
He continued: “I will be the one to bury such person. Do I sound like someone who is dying? I am very upset with those behind this wicked rumour. Death is not something you wish your fellow human beings. Many Nigerians have my telephone number, and I answer any call that comes in. What will it take such a person to put a call across to me, or any member of my family just to verify the story before making it public? I’m sure it was a deliberate act, and as I said, anybody behind this rumour will die before me.”
Social media reports suggested on Saturday evening that ‘Chairman’ Christian Chukwu passed on at the age of 70.
Chukwu, who celebrated his 70th birthday a few days ago, led the then Green Eagles to win the African Cup of Nations in 1980, which Nigeria hosted in Lagos.
He had an outstanding career as coach of various national teams, including Nigeria, Kenya and Lebanon. He was also coach and manager of the Flying Antelope, Enugu Rangers International FC.
In April 2020, Christian Chukwu’s state of health was made public. His inability to continue with his medical bills prompted the Nigeria’s Football Players Union to call on Nigerians to assist him. Thereafter, a GoFundMe campaign to raise $50, 000 to fly him to the US for treatment began in earnest. But businessman Femi Otedola stepped in and donated the required $50,000 to offset the medical bills.
Otedola’s kind gesture made it possible for Chukwu to travel abroad to seek professional medical health.
Chukwu captained Enugu Rangers to victory in the African Cup Winners’ Cup in 1977. And as a coach, he was part of NFF’s technical crew that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He later became an assistant to Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof, as the Super Eagles claimed their second African Cup of Nations title at Tunisia ‘94.