French Ligue 2 outfit Strasbourg say they are proud to have had the late Stephen Keshi on their books in his heyday.
Keshi, who passed away in Benin on June 8 at 54, joined Le Racing from Belgian giants Anderlecht in the summer of 1991 and became a cult hero at Stade de la Meinau for two seasons.
Strasbourg, who have joined the rest of the world in paying their tributes to Keshi, say they will always remember the Tunisia’94 and South Africa 2013 Africa Cup winner for making their fans happy.
“The Nigeria international left an indelible imprint in Alsace. Off the field, his kindness and availability were rented. On the field, he was intractable,” the club wrote on their official website during the week.
“Many generations of fans of Racing will remember forever the goal he had scored against Rennes (4-1) at Stade de la Meinau, which was filled to bursting one evening in May 1992.”
Keshi’s goal in the final promotion playoff helped the Alsace side gain promotion back to the French topflight.
Strasbourg had tried in vain to secure promotion to Ligue 1 over the past two seasons before the then manager Gilbert Gress signed Keshi from Anderlecht.
The Eastern French club Chairman Marc Keller said the club were delighted that their former player guided Nigeria to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations glory and also helped them reach the second round at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“Obviously, we all remember his (Keshi) monumental hits during this historic match against Rennes. I had the opportunity to see him several times over the past 20 years. I will keep in mind his eternal smile,” Keller, who was Keshi’s teammate at Strasbourg, told the club’s website.
France ’98 World Cup winners Youri Djorkaeff and Frank Leboeuf are legends of the club.
Keshi sparked an exodus of Nigerian footballers to Belgium when he joined Lokeren from Ivorian club Africa Sports in 1986.
The deceased, who missed out on a place in the Nigeria’80 Africa Cup of Nations squad due to injury, was signed by Belgian giants Anderlecht in 1987 – and was at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium , Brussels until 1991 before moving to French side Strasbourg.
Meanwhile, former Nigeria goalkeeper Andrew Aikhuomogbe said African football would miss the late ex-Togo and Mali manager.
Aikhuomogbe, who commended Keshi for helping Nigeria win the Africa Cup of Nations 19 years after he lifted the trophy as a player, also lamented the passing of his former coach Shaibu Amodu.
Former Nigeria manager Amodu died in his sleep in his Benin residence three days after Keshi passed away in the Edo State capital.
“Keshi and Amodu will be missed. They really contributed to the development of African football,” the former BCC Lions custodian told our correspondent on the telephone from his base in Egypt during the week.
“I’m saddened by the development. The government should immortalise them.”