Former Super Eagles Goalkeeper, Wilfred Agbonavbare is dead.
Agbonavbare, a member of the U-21 Mexico 83 Flying Eagles, and 1994 AFCON gold medalist, died at the age of 48, Tuesday morning from cancer related ailment, at the Príncipe de Asturias Hospital in Alcalá de Henares near Madrid.
He was earlier reported to be down with cancer and was barely clinging to life in a hospital in Spain, prompting desperate fund-raising efforts by his team mates, Paul Okoku, Dehinde Akinlotan, Tajudeen Disu and Femi Olukanni.
Just last week, the Mexico 1983 Flying Eagles squad made a passionate plea to President Goodluck Jonathan requesting him to come to the aid of Wilfred Agbonivbare.
Okoku, who was the Vice Captain of ‘83 Flying Eagles, had raised alarm saying the current health condition of Agbonavbare on the sick bed should concern all kind hearted Nigerians .
The late AFCON 1994 gold medalist, it was learnt, was relieved of his job after he was diagnosed with cancer and had spent all the money he made playing professional football on the medical bills of his late wife who incidentally died of breast cancer three years ago.
Agbonavbare’s three children had been brought back home to Nigeria because of his illness.
“As we speak, Wilfred Agbonavbare is clinging on to his life in Spain; he is very weak to the point that you could scarcely hear his voice sitting next to him. To execute his wishes, he has been relocated back to Spain after spending five months in a Tampa, Florida, hospital, to continue with his treatment.
“We have been conditioned to believe that, the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain, which is so rightfully embedded in our national anthem, and that government is a continuum, a promise made in 1960 is a promise made in 2013.”
“Again, as the promise keeper, Mr. President, we’re appealing to your good conscience to make these promises become true for us in 2015.
Two members of the team, Tajudeen Disu and Femi Olukanni, had also decried the neglect of past heroes of this country and appealed for the monetization of the Scholarship promised the team as a means of saving the life of their team mate.
“We, the 1983 set of Flying Eagles players, are calling on the President, Goodluck Jonathan, as the promise keeper, to honour the promised scholarship the then president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, made to us in 1983 after qualifying Nigeria for her first ever FIFA-organized tournament. In doing so, Wilfred, who is terminally ill, will not be in want financially and he can focus on his treatment with a peace of mind. And equally, many of our teammates in despair, struggling to make ends meet financially and suffering from deplorable health conditions with no medical assistance will have hope. We have lost three of our teammates, Captain Ali Jeje, Chris Anigala and Tarfa Kpako.
“Losing Wilfred Agbonavbare, due to lack of funds, would be tragic. Our two coaches are not left out too as both Chris Udemezue and Isiaka Yakubu are of blessed memory. How many more will have to die from our set without enjoying the fruit of their labour? They all left children behind and what a way to reward them from the labour of their national heroes, deceased parents.
“We have made our request, through direct action, to the Minister of Sports, Hon. Tammy Danagogo and the Director General of National Sports Commission, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye respectively. We have gone through the proper chain of command properly and purposely and have been assured that a recommendation has been made to your offices,” the team mates had said.
It was not clear whether the federal government responded to their appeal before his death Tuesday afternoon.