Ex International player and Top Nigeria football coach, Chief Francis Obi Okoye, Ezebilitere, Iron Gate of Nigeria, was buried on January 12th 2017, at his home town, Mbarakpaka village, Ihiala Town in Anambra State.
The event which kicked off with a Regium Mass Celebrated by Rev. Fr. Gab Ezewudo CSSP. Former parish, St. Martins, Ihiala and by
Rev Fr. Stephen Okeke assisted and the son of late chief obi Okoye, Rev Fr. Dr. Agapitus Tobechukwu Okoye and 17 other priests from Diocese of Iselle Uku, and Nnewi Diocese.
In the well attended mass, in the sermon, Rev. Fr Stephen Okeke, described the deceased as an elegant, handsome, well disciplined man, in touch with early missionary. He was well honored to see his son a priest. He can now rest in peace,as it has been what he has been expecting. In USA when we talk on phone, he would be saying, Fr. Stephen when will we see, I ended up seeing his dead body. He lived an exemplary life, transferred Christian virtues to his children.
Fr. Stephen chided the congregation on not having time for God, He told them to be prepared to be able to say ‘Lord, am ready to go with you at all times. Jesus is knocking at the door, let us welcome him, if things of world distract you, what will save any one is your conduct, not being baptized or a church member , late Obi Okoye was active at St. Mary’s Parish Onitsha.
Stress killing Nigerians, Bible says 70yrs, if we are strong we will live up to 80yrs, he was 82 yrs, if you see people who are 65 yrs or 75yrs thank God. We are running a race, as a sportsman he ran the RACE, God will give him a crown. If in other places, states give people like him a state burial, but thieves and criminals are honored. A primary six certificate holder goes into politics.. under 2 months he accumulates wealth with police escort, but he (Obi Okoye) lived a virtuous life-criminals are our heroes, let life of Obi Okoye teach its how to be heroes.
After the burial mass, he was buried at his compound, followed by the burial celebration. Gov. Willie Obiano was represented by a team led by Hon Barr Dr. Uju Nwogo, Commissioner for sports and youth entrepreneurship, and SSA to Governor on Sports Emma Okalla and former SSA to Governor on Peter Obi on Sports Arthur Egbunam, others include former SSG Hon Oseloka Obanze and his wife, representatives of Mr. Peter Obi-former Governor Anambra State, Onowu Igbonine and Onowu of Awkuzu, Hon Dr. M. N Ozua Okoye Jp and his team of Igbo high Chiefs graced the occasion and many sportsmen who came from all over Nigerian.
The Late Chief Obi Okoye was survived by Mrs. DN Obi Okoye, ARC Francis Okoye-Our nation correspondent, Engr. Agatha Onorah, Rev. Fr. Dr. Tobechukwu Agapitus Okoye opus Dei Congregation Lagos, Mr. Jude Okoye, Dr. Mrs. Bibian Chioma Okoye and Mrs. Ijeoma Uchendu.
Late Chief Francis Obi Okoye (Uchendu) played as captain and coach of Aba Giant Killers from 1950-1962, Eastern Nigeria selected XI, 1956-1962, and the National team-De Nigerian Red devils from 1958-1962 at the right full back position.
He later trained as a football coach in Britain, doing coaching attachment with clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, West ham fc, etc and coached top clubs in Nigeria like Rangers International FC, premier Brewiers FC, ASFSA Warriors FC, morning star FC etc as well as schools like CKC, Onitsha, CKS Aba, DMGS Onitsha and metropolitan. He would be remembered for bringing many Igbo youngsters to International football glory during his time.