The Nigerian football family on Tuesday in Lagos expressed concern over the health of former Super Eagles star, Pius Ikedia, and wished him speedy recovery.
They spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) against the backdrop of Ikedia, who slumped on the pitch while playing for ex-Ajax of Amsterdam stars in an exhibition match two days ago.
He has since been revived in a hospital in Amsterdam.
The soccer buffs also said that it was time the government took adequate care of the living ex-players who served the country meritoriously.
This, they said, was necessary to avoid their dying in penury and of preventable causes as had been witnessed in the recent past.
The Dutch media had reported that the 36-year-old was revived on the pitch after several attempts before he was taken to hospital.
“It was a close shave with death for Pius,’’ the reports quoted a top source from the club saying.
“We only thank God that with proper care, we were not celebrating the death of another Nigeria football star on the pitch.’’
Reacting, Christian Chukwu, a former Coach of the Super Eagles, said the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) was aware of his state and was working toward improving his health a great deal.
He said that this care should cut across other sports athletes who were in need of such help and that the NFF should extend little help to them, especially for health needs.
“We have lost so many great talents and we don’t want to lose more of them.
“We are aware of Pius Ikedia’s health issues and the NFF is working on it,’’ said Chukwu who coached the Super Eagles to the semi-finals of the 2004 Africa Cup Nations.
“The NFF has realised that we lost so many sport athletes over the years and that little help could have gone a long way to save them.
“Let’s take the case of Rashidi Yekini, one of the top strikers Nigeria has produced who lost his life in Ibadan while having health issues.
“If the government had shown more interest, he would have probably been alive and by now, be useful to the NFF because of his experience in football,’’ Chukwu, former Green Eagles Captain said.
Friday Ekpo, an ex-international, urged the government to set up a committee that would assist former footballers, other sportsmen and women who were going through severe health challenges.
Ekpo said that some of the former sportsmen devoted most of their active years in representing the country in international competitions and should not be neglected in time of trouble.
“It’s so pathetic to hear that Pius Ikedia is seriously sick in Holland and of other ex-sportsmen and women that are going through various health challenges.
“There should be a body or a committee in place to cater for ex-sportsmen that are go through this ordeal.
“We don’t want a repeat of what happen to Rasidi Yekini and others too numerous to mention who were abandoned to die.
“By so doing, the current sportsmen will be willing and determined to represent the country whenever they are called upon,’’ he said.
He, however, advised sportsmen and women to combine education with their career for future purposes and also save for the future.
Ikedia started his football career with Bendel Insurance between 1997 and 1998 from where he moved to ASEC Mimosas of Abidjan where he played between 1998 and 1999.
After that stint with ASEC, he moved to Ajax of Amsterdam where he made 25 appearances and scored two goals until 2005.
He has since played for many foreign clubs, especially in Holland and retired after 2012.
Ikedia made the Super Eagles team that won bronze at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia and also played for Nigeria in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the 2002 World Cup hosted by Korea and Japan.