A nonagenarian, Pa Samuel Ilodigwe, the father of the late ex-Rangers and ex-Green Eagles player, Kenneth Ilodigwe, says he would be consoled if his son was given a befitting burial.
Born in 1952, the exd-international Ilodigwe died on March 31, 2017 during a protracted illness.
Pa. Ilodigwe, 94, urged the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Rangers International FC of Enugu and the Anambra Government to rally round the family because his son’s death had created a vacuum.
He said, on Monday, in his home in Amikwo village, Awka that the 65-year-old bond between him and his late son had been severed by death.
The deceased had been scheduled for burial on June 2, with a requiem mass at SS John and Paul Catholic Church, Awka.
Ilodigwe said that Kenneth, who was his first child, was a brilliant and easygoing person.
Referring to Kenneth as “Onye Egwu’’ (meaning a good player), he said the late footballer was born in Jos, Plateau, while he was on transfer to the state as a staff of United African Company (UAC).
He noted that then young Kenneth was enrolled into Zixton Primary School, Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra and came out with distinction and went on to the elite Christ the King College (CKC), Onitsha on scholarship.
He said that while at CKC, he was fondly called “Swagger’’ by his fans in Awka due to his lively nature.
He played for the school’s Academicals Team and Rangers International and then Green Eagles.
“Kenneth is my first child of 10 children, comprising five boys and five girls, he was close to me and very brilliant, he finished with distinction from Zixton Primary School, Ozubulu.
“He got admission into CKC on scholarship; while there, he played for the Academicals and then later for Rangers International and Green Eagles.
“Some of his schoolmates are former governor of Anambra, Peter Obi, the incumbent governor Willie Obiano and former governor of Rivers, Peter Odili.
“Onyegwu as I called him got admission to study in Howard University, U.S. in 1974 and returned in 1976 when he played for Rangers International against Mahala FC of Egypt,’’ he recalled.
“You know I am 94-year-old this year, so I can’t remember every detail now but we enjoyed great father-son bond and his death has left a huge vacuum in the family,’’ he said.
A childhood friend of Keneth, who lived in the area, Michael Chibuogwu, said he would sorely miss his friend and brother.
Chibuogwu said that what stood Kenneth out on the field of play was his discipline and neatness which earned him the name “Don’t dirty’’.
“It is sad that Swagger has to go at this time; he was a jolly good fellow and made us happy; that is why we call him Swagger.
“I have known him all my life because we grew up together, he was a great player, we call him `don’t dirty’ because his jersey was always as clean as he began the match when he finished.
“May God grant his soul eternal rest,’’ he said.
Kenneth was a midfielder in the defunct Green Eagles.
He was one of the second generations of Green Eagles players, who came to limelight in the early 1970s after winning the prestigious Academicals Cup with the dreaded East Central State team in 1971. (NAN)