A cross-section of Nigeria’s ex-internationals on Thursday mourned the demise of Joe Erico, a former Green Eagles goalkeeper, describing him as a mentor who lived a life worthy of emulation by up and coming starlets.
Reports said that the 72-year-old former NEPA FC of Lagos FC goalkeeper died Jan. 20 after a brief illness.
Wahidi Akanni, a former NEPA FC player, described the late coach as a perfect gentleman on and off the pitch.
“Erico was one of the most patient and respectable coaches. Whenever there is an issue, just talk to him and he will sort you out. His death is a big loss to Nigeria.
“He lived for football, and he was always ready to impact knowledge. It is sad that he is no longer with us. Young players have a lot to learn from him.’’ Akanni said.
Sharing the same view, Dosu Joseph, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico as a brilliant coach who mentored him as a young player.
“He trained me. He mentored me. Erico made me who I am today, plus the grace of God. It is sad that he is gone. We usually don’t want our loved ones to die.
“My sympathies to his family. Times like this can be trying and we can only pray for strength. I hope we get remembered before we die, because Nigeria does not honour its heroes while they are alive.
“That is why that act of heroism is reducing. If it’s not beneficial, nobody is willing to give it a 100 percent chance. That’s why young players are mindful about what they can achieve while they are active,’’ he said.
Also speaking, Emmanuel Babayaro, a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, described Erico’s demise as a huge loss to the Nigeria football family.
“ I was with him around November 2020, he was an all-rounder. When it comes to football and human management, he was particular about ensuring that things went smoothly.
“I can attest to the fact that he was a good man. Football was his life, and he gave his best, I pray young starts will be as humble and kind as Joe was.
“I pray for his children and wife, that God will keep them and grant them the fortitude to bear the loss. But we should always check on our patriots. We still have a lot to learn from them.
“We still have some of them living and we should take advantage of their knowledge. Let’s engage them and tap from their experience. These are the likes of Christian Chukwu, Adegboye Onigbinde, they still have a lot to give.
`These are men that played selflessly for their fatherland. Experience, they say, can’t be bought. Erico is gone with his knowledge. We should take maximum advantage of those that are still here,’’ he said.