Uche Okafor

Nigerian footballer (1967-2011)

Uchenna Kizito Okafor // (audio speaker iconlisten), often shortened to Uche Okafor (8 August 1967 – 6 January 2011)[1] was a Nigerian professional footballer who played as a defender. He made 34 international appearances for the Nigeria national team. Widely regarded as one of Nigeria's best central defenders of all time, he was capable of man-marking opponents without any problems and his tackling ability to strenghten his ball-winning skills, he was also strong in the air.

Uche Okafor
Personal information
Full name Uchenna Kizito Okafor
Date of birth (1967-08-08)8 August 1967
Place of birth Owerri, Nigeria
Date of death 6 January 2011(2011-01-06) (aged 43)
Place of death Little Elm, Texas, United States
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Position(s) Centre-back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1988 ACB Lagos 211 (5)
1988–1991 KRC Mechelen 132 (3)
1991–1992 UR Namur 33 (2)
1992–1993 Le Touquet AC 29 (0)
1993–1994 Hannover 96 4 (1)
1994–1995 União de Leiria 32 (1)
1995 Ironi Ashdod 13 (0)
1995–1996 Farense 20 (0)
1996–2000 Kansas City Wizards 109 (3)
Total 583 (15)
National team
1988–1998 Nigeria 34 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Club career

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He made his debut in adult football in 1986 with performances for "Lagos", where he spent three seasons. His performance for this team attracted the attention of representatives of the coaching staff of the Belgian "Racing Mechelen", which he joined in 1988. He played the next three seasons of his playing career for the team from Mechelen, but was not the main player. In 1991, he signed a contract with the Belgian third division team Namur, but soon changed it to the French Le Touquet, who also played in the local third division. In 1993, Okafor moved to the German club "Hannover 96". On July 31, in a match against "Tennis-Borussia", he made his debut in the Second Bundesliga. Performances in Germany were not very successful, Uche rarely got into the starting lineup, playing in only 4 meetings. After that, he briefly played for the Portuguese "Union Leiria" and "Farense", as well as the Israeli "Maccabi Ironi". In early 1996, Okafor accepted an offer from the American Kansas City Wizards. On April 13, in a match against Colorado Rapids, he made his MLS debut. On April 18, Uche became the first football player of the newly formed league to hit the opponent's goal through himself in a fall ("bicycle kick"). On April 21, in a match against San Jose Clash, he scored his first goal. In the 2000 season, Okafor helped the team win the MLS Cup, after which he retired.

International career

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In 1988, Okafor was included in the bid of the Nigerian national team for the African Cup of Nations. Uche made his debut for the national team in the semi-final against Algeria. According to the results of the competition, he won a silver medal. He was left for the 1990 and 1992 AFCON.

In 1994, Okafor took part in the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia for the second time. At the tournament, he was the main football player and took part in all the matches. Uche helped the national team win the trophy. In the same year, he went to the 1994 World Championship in the USA. However, a few days before the start of the tournament, Okafor was injured and could not take the field.

In 1995, Uche represented the national team at the King Fahd Cup in Saudi Arabia and helped the team to fourth place.

The last major tournament for Okafor was the 1998 World Cup in France. At the tournament, Okafor took part in a match against the Paraguay national team (1:3), which became the player's only match at the world championships.

In total, during his career in the national team, which lasted 10 years, he played 34 matches in the form of the main team of the country.

Honours

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Kansas City Wizards

Nigeria

References

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  1. Jide Alaka (7 January 2011). "Uche Okafor dies in the US". Next. Timbuktu Media. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
  2. "1998 MLS All-Star Game". MLSsoccer.com. August 2, 1998. Retrieved July 27, 2023.

Other websites

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