Former Nigeria national team captain and head coach, Christian Chukwu, has arrived in the United Kingdom in company with his wife, Lilian Nkeiruka, for further medical treatment. He has had an appointment with a top cardiologist arranged for him by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Chukwu, who captained Nigeria to glory at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time back in 1980, travelled with his wife aboard a flight from Lagos.
“I am very happy with the efforts of the Nigeria Football Federation through the President, Amaju Pinnick. He has proved that he is truly father of Nigerian Football. I am also grateful for the support and prayers of other Nigerians,” said Chukwu.
He added: “It is waist pain and stomach upset that I keep feeling. The doctors in Nigeria have treated the stomach upset and it remains the waist pain, but I am confident that I will come back to Nigeria having regained sound health.”
Chukwu and wife were seen off at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos by a Member of the NFF Executive Committee and Chairman of the Nigeria Women Football League, Aisha Falode and protocol officials of the NFF.
Recall that the NFF had moved to ascertain the nature of Chukwu’s illness and provide support after news of his predicament made the rounds few weeks ago, with Pinnick delegating the Chairman of Enugu State Football Association and Member of NFF Executive Committee, Chidi Ofo Okenwa, to pay him a visit.
The Federation also sought financial support from philanthropic individuals, with Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola, weighing with $50,000 (about N20 million).
Christian Chukwu captained the Green Eagles as they won Nigeria’s first–ever AFCON title in 1980, receiving the brand new Unity Cup from then President Shehu Shagari. He also captained the Enugu Rangers FC team that won the Africa Cup Winners’ Cup in 1977.
Nicknamed ‘Chairman’ for the authority he exuded as he marshalled the defence and launched onslaughts on the opposition defence for club and country, Chukwu also served as assistant coach of the first team to win a FIFA World Cup trophy for Nigeria – the Golden Eaglets that triumphed at the FIFA U16 World Cup in China in 1985.
He was also assistant coach of the team widely known as the Golden Generation – the 1994 Class of Super Eagles that qualified Nigeria for her first FIFA World Cup finals, won the Africa Cup of Nations title and reached the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup in America.
Between 2002 and 2005, Chukwu was head coach of the Super Eagles, leading the team to win bronze medal at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia.