On this day 1989:
Super Eagles midfield maestro Sam Okwaraji slumped on the pitch during a world cup qualifier at the Lagos National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Born on 19 May 1964, in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji had a successful career in Europe. Within a four year period (1984–1988) he had played for AS Roma, Dinamo Zagreb, Austria Klagenfurt, VfB Stuttgart and SSV Ulm.
He was playing for these clubs while studying. Okwaraji is a qualified lawyer with a masters in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. On 30 April 1986, playing for Zagreb he scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan.
Okwaraji made the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year’s African Nations Cup he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. He played until the finals where the Eagles lost to Cameroon by a lone goal.
Tragedy struck on August 12, 1989, when Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos. He died from possible complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the young age of 25.