FORMER Green Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala, has appealed to Nigerians to come to the aid of ailing former Nigerian player, Kelechi Emeteole.
The appeal by the 1980 Africa Nations Cup-winning goalkeeper is coming on the heels of the death of another former Nigeria player, Paul Hamilton, who died on Thursday.
Okala described Emeteole’s ailment as serious which demands fund to treat.
According to him, these former footballers and coaches who did their best could live longer if adequate care was provided for them in retirement.
“Kelechi is down, I call on people who have the means to please assist him as his sickness needs money,” Okala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
Emetiole, who is also known as “Caterpillar” is down with an ailment doctors say is cancer of the throat and requires about $11,000 is the medical bill.
On Hamilton, Okala told NAN on Thursday in Awka that he had known the fallen veteran since the 1960s.
He said Hamilton was popular in Onitsha back then when he was playing for the Onitsha Red Devils.
Okala said he grew up to play against “Wonder Boy” in the Amakiri Cup in 1971 as a Rangers International FC of Enugu player while Hamilton played for the Army selected side.
NAN reports that Hamilton spent the bulk of his playing career which spanned 1961 to 1975 with the defunct NEPA football Club in Lagos.
His football career was cut short with a leg injury and thereafter went into coaching and was hired as coach of the U-20 national team.
He was also one time head coach of the Nigerian national football team in 1989 but was fired after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
Hamilton was later drafted to coach the female national team “Super Falcons’’ to the first ever world cup held in China 1991
He had his left leg amputated as the result of many injuries. He passed away after a long illness in March 2017.
Okala said the death was painful for the family and the deceased did the best he could for the nation and prayed for the repose of his soul.
“I knew when he was playing in Onitsha and as young students we will go and watch him in the field.
“He was an inspiration to many of us and I grew up to play with him, we played in the Amakiri Cup in 1971 where Rangers International won.
“I worked with him in the defunct Nigeria Football Association (NFA) when he was heading the Lagos wing and later he became the first and maybe the best coach of the female national team, Super Falcons.
“He was a great man, we will miss him,’’ he said.