Ex-Super Eagles Goalkeeper Dies At 71

Late Joe Erico
Ex-Super Eagles Goalkeeper Dies At 71 - Vantage News Nigeria
Late Joe Erico

Former Nigeria senior team goalkeeper and one time assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Joe Erico, has died.

According to family sources, Erico was found dead in his bed in the early hours of Thursday having complained of body pain and treated of malaria.

The 71-year-old was born Joseph Bassey Eric in the Odukpani local government area in what is today known as Cross River State.

Erico belonged to the class of the best goalkeepers in the history of Nigeria’s senior team, and served at the same period as the likes of Emmanuel Okala and Eyo Essien.

A statement by NFF partly read, “He made his debut for then Green Eagles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Zambia in Lagos in July 1973 (which Nigeria won 3-2), and then kept goal in all of Nigeria’s six matches at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia, where the Eagles finished third – the first time Nigeria would win a medal at the AFCON. Erico was also in goal in all of Nigeria’s pre-tournament friendlies against Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania just before the team flew to Ethiopia.

“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, Mohammed Sanusi, said in Abuja.

“Nicknamed ‘Jogo Bonito’(Beautiful Game) for his preference for fluency and expression in the rhythm of play of his teams as a coach, Erico was part of the triumvirate (alongside late Amodu Shaibu and late Stephen Keshi) who were shooed in to do a rescue job for Nigeria as the ship to the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals tottered badly under Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere. With three matches left in the campaign and a must-win mandate for all, the trio got the job done and qualified Nigeria for Korea/Japan.

“They also led the team to a bronze-medal finish at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali early 2002.

“With his death on Thursday morning, it means all members of that historic triumvirate have now passed on.”

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