LIFE AND TIMES OF SAMUEL OKWARAJI

Samuel Okwaraji

Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji was born on the 19th day of May 1964 in Umudioka Orlu Imo State Nigeria by By Mr. David Okwaraji. His parents worked with the defunct Nigeria Airways as a Duty Officer and Lady Janet Okwaraji being a retired school headmistress. Samuel Okwaraji has four brothers and two sisters. He spoke English, German, Italian, Spanish and Igbo. He attended WTC Practicing School Enugu where he did his primary education and Ezeachi Secondary School Orlu in Imo State for his secondary Education. Samuel Okwaraji played professional football internationally for Nigeria and wore the number 6 jersey. He also played for clubs in Europe. He played in the midfield position.

In addition to being a footballer, he was a lawyer and he obtained his masters degree in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. One thing he will be remember for is his quote where pledged allegiance to his country showing his great love for his nation Nigeria. He said ‘I am a Lawyer you know and signed to play football for certain conditions but I don’t think it included reselling my service to my country. You or your club cannot stop me from playing for my country. Let me tell you, I am going to represent my country whether you like it or not.

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Samuel Okwaraji Football Career

Okwaraji had a football career in Europe which included playing for AS Roma (1984-1985), NK Dinamo Zagreb (1985-1986), Austria Klagenfurt (1986-1987), VfB Stuttgart (1987-1989) and SSV Ulm 1846 (loan) (1987-1988) while finishing his education in law. In his short stay with Dinamo Zagreb, Samuel scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan. The game was played on 30 April 1986, and Dinamo Zagreb won 12-0. Samuel’s only official game for Dinamo in the Yugoslav First League was as a substitute on 18 May 1986 against FK Priština. The game was played at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, the 29th round of 1985/86 season. Dinamo Zagreb won 4:3.

Samuel Okwaraji

He joined the Green Eagles and made the squad in 1988. At that year’s African Nations Cup where he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. He played along until the final match. The Eagles lost to their perennial rivals Cameroon by a lone goal. Okwaraji also made 4 appearances for the Nigerian Olympic team in 1988. One was during the qualifiers, and 3 at the Olympics themselves in Nigeria´s 3 games in the group D.

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Samuel Okwaraji Collapse and death

Samuel Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos. He died from what is believed to be complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. An autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure. Samuel collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State on 12 August 1989. He died at the age of 25.

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As we continue to remember this great footballer, his nation Nigeria will forever be grateful to him for his love and service.

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