“This is a moment of grief to all of us in Abuja and to the entire football family in the country, because we have lost a great man. I still recall how he insisted that SWAN must be a part of his football competition last year.”
“He was a perfect gentleman and was always ready to contribute to the development of the game.”
“We also want to condole with the Abuja All Stars Football Club and we pray that the Almighty God will grant him eternal rest and grant those he has left behind the fortitude to bear the loss.” Said Kayode Adeniyi, Chairman, SWAN FCT chapter.
Okey Isima, won the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with the Green Eagles in 1980 and also played for Nigeria at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow as well as the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Libya.
Also ,tributes continue to trail Okey Isima with former Abia state governor Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu eulogising the 1980 Cup winning Eagle as a man who knew what was good and went for it.
Kalu said,”Isima knew football without education was dangerous,so from the blast he was interested in making money to further his education.That he achieved even after winning gold in his 1980 Nations Cup debut.”
According to the ex- governor,when other players were dissuaded from living Enugu Rangers,even with scholarships from American Universities, Isima looked a top official in the face and told him he needed more money to take care of his[Isima’s] family.
“Yes,Isima was bold and blunt.He eventually left Rangers for Jos Standard early in 1979 with Arthur Ebunam.In that year’s league,the Flying Antelopes lost home and away to the Jos pen pushers,first time a Nigerian team would beat Rangers home and away.It was from Jos he joined the Eagles.And after Nations Cup gold he travelled abroad to better his life,”Kalu added.
Isima actually starred as a school boy for Christ the King College [CKC] Onitsha before crossing over to Holy Ghost College Owerri in 1976 with Chukwuma “Water” Nwokike where they won the East Central State Schools Cup under Sunny Aguta.He joined Rangers in 1978,following the footsteps of Godwin Gbenimacho[Mature] and Emma Merenini.As a professional,he played for Portuguese side Maritimo Funchal alongside Sylvanus Okpala.Youinger brother Ndubuisi teamed up with Asabatex.
“Give it to Isima,”Kalu continued,”he always found a way round North Africans.It got to a level where para-psychologist Gabriel Okonzua prayed that he be made Eagles captain for Nigeria to beat Algeria 3-0 away, after a home 0-2 loss in a 1981 World Cup qualifier.Skipper Segun Odegbami was dethroned mid-air,Muda Lawal took over,Isima scored the lone goal in Eagles’ 1-2 loss.Isima’s goal helped Nigeria hit Egypt 1-0 in 1980,at Libya ’82 he scored again against Algeria in yet another1-2 loss and against Tunisia in 1985,the defender gave Nigeria a slim 1-0 triumph.”
Isima joins Muda Lawal,Tunde Bamidele and Aloy Atuegbu,all members of the Eagles 1980 squad, out of planet Earth.