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30 Years On: Has Nigeria Done Enough to Immortalize Okwaraji? Join the Conversation

Orlu is the second largest city in Imo date after the capital; Owerri. It is an historic city as she served as the headquarters of the Organisation of African Unity Relief Agencies during the Nigeria-Biafra war that lasted over three years.

On the flipside, aside from her commercial and industrial activities, Orlu is home to important personalities such as Dr Douglas Acholonu Dr (Mrs) Catherine Acholonu, Rochas Okorocha, Kanu Nwankwo and one of Nigeria’s Legendary players; Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji.

Samuel Okwaraji, born on the 19th of May 1964, was a professional Football player to that featured for the Green Eagles in the late 1980s. He wasn’t just a footballer but an academic; a qualified lawyer and a masters degree holder in International Law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Time, Italy.

He was a Midfielder during his active days and he played for clubs like As Roma, Dinamo Zagreb, Austria Klagenfurt, VFB Stuttgart and SSV Ulm between 1984-1988. He was in the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year’s African Nations Cup he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the tournament against Cameroon. He played along until the final where the Eagles lost to their perennial rivals Cameroon 1-0.

He was one of the most talented players in that squat then but his career was short-lived as he died of congestive heart failure thirteen minutes before regulation time in a FIFA World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State on 12 August 1989.

It’s been 30 years since the death of Samuel Okwaraji but his memories still remains fresh in the minds of those that saw him play live but the concern is; Has the country done enough to Immortalize Okwaraji?

The truth of the matter is that Nigeria can’t immortalize every player. It also depends on what you mean by ‘immortalizing’ anyway. Player or not, we are all humans first and we come and go. Okwaraji will be remember in history for how well he served his country as a footballer and dying on the field of play. His statue at the National Stadium should be maintained for the coming generations.