BY JONATHAN NDA- ISAIAH, OLAWALE AYENI, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari is saddened to learn of the passing on of former Nigeria senior team goalkeeper and one-time assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Joe Erico.
Commiserating with the family of the legendary player and tactician, as well as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the president in a state- ment issued by his media aide, Femi Adesina averred that the nation will forever remember him for his tire- less devotion to duty, ensuring victo- ry for Nigeria when it mattered most in football.
President Buhari believed that Coach Erico’s guidance as a veteran would have availed much for the Nigerian football community, but it pleased his Maker to call him home at such a time.
The President prayed almighty God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest and divine comfort for
family, friends, associates, and everyone who came in contact with the talented sportsman.
Also the death of Former Green Eagles goalkeeper Joseph, has been described as a monumental loss to Nigeria by Minister of Youth and sports Development, Sunday Dare.
A statement by the sports minister, Dare stated “Erico dead, this is so unfortunate and sad. This is one death too many, a great loss to the entire family and the sporting fraternity. He was a great goalkeeper who stood out among his peers, he also made his mark as Assistant Super Eagles coach. My deepest con- dolences to the family, friends and the football family. May God bless his soul and comfort his family.” the statement concluded.
“It is another sad day for Nigerian Football. Erico was among the very best of Nigeria’s international goalkeepers and also served the country with fervour and diligence as Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles between 2001 and 2002. He will be sorely missed. We pray that Almighty God grant him eternal rest and also grant his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the big loss,” NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said in Abuja.
Erico made his mark as a player with ECN which metamorphosed into NEPA Football Club. He was a member of the Green Eagles Nations Cup Bronze winning team in Ethiopia.
He later coached Julius Berger Football Club of Lagos as well as NEPA FC. He was assistant to the late Amodu Shuaibu at the Mali 2002 Nations Cup. He alongside the late Amodu and Stephen Keshi qualified the Super Eagles for the 2002 World Cup, but were sacked afterwards.
Erico was nicknamed the Jogo Bonito exponent because of his flair for tip tap football reminiscent of the Brazilian Samba style. He was aged 72.