Nigerian professional footballer, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, would have been 55 years old today if he had survived a congestive heart failure 25 years ago on 12 August 1989.
However, his memory lives on and Google has honoured the footballer with a special doodle on his 55th posthumous birthday.
Okwaraji was born on 19 May 1964 in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria. Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola atNational Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
He died from possible complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as an autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure. The sudden death was similar to that of Marc-Vivien Foé less than 14 years later.
The late Okwaraji was also a qualified lawyer who had a masters in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.
Okwaraji had a career in Europe which included playing for AS Roma (1984-1985), NK Dinamo Zagreb (1985-1986), Austria Klagenfurt (1986-1987), VfB Stuttgart (1987-1989) and SSV Ulm 1846 (loan) (1987-1988) while finishing his education in law.
In his short stay with Dinamo Zagreb, Samuel scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan. The game was played on 30 April 1986, and Dinamo Zagreb won 12-0. Samuel’s only official game for Dinamo in the Yugoslav First League was as a substitute on 18 May 1986 against FK Priština.