The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday in Abuja said Christian Chukwu, a former captain of the old Green Eagles, has arrived in the UK for medical treatment.
Ademola Olajire, NFF’s Director of Communications, said in a statement that the former Super Eagles Chief Coach arrived in London in company of his wife, Lilian Nkeiruka.
He said Chukwu travelled with his wife aboard a Virgin Atlantic Airline flight from Lagos.
The NFF spokesman said Amaju Pinnick, the Federation’s President, has arranged for an appointment for the Nigerian legend with a renowned cardiologist in London.
“I am very happy with the efforts of the NFF, through Amaju Pinnick. He (Pinnick) has proved that he is truly (a) father of Nigerian Football. I am also grateful for the support and prayers of other Nigerians,’’ he quoted Chukwu as saying on arrival.
Olajire further quoted the man who captained Nigeria to their first Africa Cup of Nations win in 1980 as saying he was hopeful about his treatment.
“It is waist pain and stomach upset that I keep feeling. The doctors in Nigeria have treated the stomach upset and it remains the waist pain, but I am confident that I will come back to Nigeria having regained sound health.”
Olajire said Chukwu and wife were seen off at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos by Aisha Falode, a member of NFF Executive Committee, and some NFF protocol officials.
He recalled that when news of the former defender’s health challenges broke, the NFF had moved immediately to ascertain the nature of his illness and to provide support.
“Then, Pinnick had delegated Chidi Ofo-Okenwa, the Chairman of Enugu State Football Association and member of NFF Executive Committee, to pay Chukwu a visit.
“The Federation also sought financial support from philanthropic individuals, with Femi Otedola, the Chairman of Forte Oil, donating 50,000 dollars.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Chukwu captained the Green Eagles to Nigeria’s first-ever Africa Cup of Nations title in 1980.
He had received the then brand new Unity Cup from then President Shehu Shagari.
The man nicknamed “Chairman’’ also captained Rangers International Football Club to the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1977.
Chukwu also served as assistant coach of the first team to win a FIFA World Cup trophy for Nigeria.
That was the Golden Eaglets team which triumphed at the FIFA Under-16 World Cup in China in 1985.
He was also assistant coach of the Super Eagles team which qualified for Nigeria’s first FIFA World Cup finals, appearing at the 1994 finals in the U.S.
The team had also earlier won the Africa Cup of Nations title same year and reached the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup.
Between 2002 and 2005, Chukwu was head coach of the Super Eagles, leading the team to win bronze medal at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia.
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)