Football is unarguably the most popular sport in the world. It is filled with enthralling moments and can be played virtually anywhere. However, the beautiful game is not without an ugly side.
Over the years, a handful of footballers have lost their lives while playing the game they loved.
There are a total of 176 professional footballers who died on the pitch or from distressing events while playing; with 15 Nigerians inclusive (Wikipedia).
Here is a list of Nigerian footballers who died on the pitch or from distressing events that occurred while playing;
1. Sam Okwaraji 12th August 1989
Sam was a professional footballer who played internationally for Nigeria and Vfb Stuttgart. He was also a qualified lawyer who had a masters in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. The Nigerian Midfielder collapsed and died shortly after during a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere. It was revealed he died of an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
2. Endurance Idahor 6th March 2010
The Edo born footballer was a member of Sudanese club El-Merreikh. In 2003, the Edo striker tied for the Nigerian Premier League highest goalscorer title with 12 goals playing for Julius Berger. Following a challenge from a fellow player during a Sudanese Premier League match between El-Merriekh and Al-Amal; he collapsed, unable to breathe. He later died inside the ambulance on the way to a hospital. An autopsy showed he died of heart failure.
3. Chinonso Henry Ihelerewe 5th August 2012
Ihelewere was a footballer who played for Romania club, CS Delta Tulcea. , Henry fell during a friendly match between CS Delta Tulcea and FC Baloteti after just playing for 10 minutes. He was later pronounced dead after the medical team failed to resuscitate him for more than 50 minutes. The Nigerian allegedly died of cardiac arrest.
4. Orobosa Adun 25th May 2009
He played as a goalkeeper for Nigeria Premier league club Warri Wolves FC. He slumped and died during a training session at the Oleh Township stadium. Few days to his death, It was reported that the goalkeeper was among several players that were attacked just after warm-up to a match, supposed to hold between Enugu Rangers and Warri Wolves by persons suspected to be supporters of Enugu Rangers. The goalkeeper was said to have died of internal haemorrhage.
5.Emmanuel Ogoli 12th December 2010
The left back played for Nigerian premier league clubs Bayelsa United and Ocean Boys. During a league match between Ocean Boys and Niger Tonadoes at the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa, Ogoli slumped and died on his way to the hospital. He had suffered a horrific injury the previous month at the same stadium. He was suspected to have died of a heart attack.
6. Bobsam Elejiko 13th November 2011
He predominantly spent his football career in Belgium; featuring for clubs like Wacker Nordhausen, Westerlo and K. Merksem S. C.. The Nigerian collapsed while playing a fifth-tie league match with his team K. Merksem S. C. against F.C. Kaart in Belgium. He was pronounced dead shortly after. Elejiko demise was caused by rupture of the aorta.
7. David Oniya 13th June 2015
The towering defender was a member of Malaysian Premier League club T-Team. He was captain of the club side and played as a defender. During a friendly between his club T-Team and Kelantan, the defender collapsed 3 minutes into the match and died shortly after. The news led to the suspension of the match. It was later confirmed he died of a heart attack.
8. Martins Chieme 8th March 2020
Chieme was a professional footballer who played for Nigerian premier league club Nasarawa United. He slumps after a collision with an opposing player during a league match between Katsina United. Immediately after the incident, the medical team tried resuscitating him before rushing him to the hospital. It was reported that he was taken to the hospital with the press vehicle because ambulance on the ground failed to start. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital in Nasarawa.