Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji is gifted footballer from Nigeria, who was born on May 19, 1964 in the second-largest city of Imo state, Orlu.
The late Nigerian international played in the middle of the field, making him a vital player in the game. Sadly, he died on this day, August 12, 1989, at the age of 25 years old.
Okwaraji’s talents were known worldwide, he played for different teams in different countries, like Dinamo Zagreb in Yugoslavia (now Croatia), Austria Klagenfurt, AS Roma in Italy, and VfB Stuttgart in Germany.
However, what made him special was how he represented Nigeria in football, playing in important tournaments like the African Cup of Nations in 1988 and helping Nigeria qualify for the World Cup in 1990.
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On August 12, 1989, as Nigeria was playing Angola at the National Stadium Surulere in Lagos, a tragic event that occurred when his heart stopped affected everything for his family and the Nigerian football community. Everyone was shocked and devastated to learn that he did not survive, despite efforts to rescue him.
His passing had a big impact as it made people realize that football players need better medical care and support. It made everyone think about how important it is to take care of the players’ health as well.
The Nigerian, who was a player for the K. Berchem Sport club in Antwerp, was later reported to have passed away from potential hypertrophic cardiomyopathy issues after an autopsy revealed that he had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
Okwaraji’s memory lives on as he showed how much he loved football, and his story reminds everyone that players’ well-being is really important.