Emma Njoku and Mike Pius
Ex-Nigeria junior international, Phillip Osundu, is dead.
A close friend of the family, Esther Ugochi Nwachukwu, said the diminutive former Nigeria junior international died in Belgium yesterday morning.
Osundu was said to have complained of feeling unwell while at work, on Thursday, and went to the hospital where he later died.
Born on November 28, 1971, in Aba, Abia State, Osundu was in the Golden Eaglets’ squad that featured at the FIFA U17 World Cup in Canada, in 1987, where Nigeria lost to Soviet Union in the final on penalties. He, however, won the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.
He also played regularly for the other categories of the youth teams of Nigeria, but could not play for the senior national team, the Super Eagles.
He was a member of the Flying Eagles team that participated at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia, in 1989 where Nigeria lost in the final to Portugal.
Osondu played for El Kanemi Warriors in the Nigerian League before he joined Belgian club, RSC Anderlecht, in 1988. A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut for the club’s first team in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989, under coach Aad de Mos.
However, there was a lot of competition at Anderlecht with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen, which made Osondu which limited his playing time at the club. Between 1990 and 1992 he was loaned to neighbours, RWDM, where the coach, Hugo Broos, gave him more playing opportunities. He scored his first goal for the club in a 4-1 win over Beerschot VAV. A year later, Broos left for Club Brugge and Osundu was again relegated in the team’s pegging order and he had to return to Anderlecht during the summer transfer window.
In 1994 the petit striker moved to second division club, La Louviere, where he scored five times in 20 matches. A season later, he swapped La Louvière during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he completed the rest of the season. Afterwards, he played several years for Diegem Sport and FC Merchtem 2000.
Osondu, who was highly regarded a great talent and excelled as a youth international, but could not fulfill his potential in Belgium. He is often cited as one of many young African footballers who were in a hurry to play abroad