Joe Erico, an ex-Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer and assistant coach, has died at the age of 72.
A close family member, Tomiwa Aghedo, while confirming the sad news, said the veteran coach died on Tuesday morning after complaining of a stomach ache the previous day.
Erico, nicknamed ‘Jogobonito exponent’, was also said to be surrounded by his family at the time of his passing.
“He complained of stomach ache yesterday and he was subsequently rushed to the hospital, where he was told to present his Covid-19 test result before he would be attended to.
“Coach Erico went for the test as directed and very early this morning (Tuesday) he passed away. It’s terrible news at this point in time and every one of us is devastated.
“We are consoled by the fact that he served Nigeria with all his strength and he lived a good life worthy of emulation,” Aghedo told Goals.
Erico began his football career with the Nigerian Police Force before playing for NEPA, Nigeria Railways, Electricity Connectors of Nigeria and Julius Berger – where he won several diadems.
He got a national team call up in 1968 and represented Nigeria at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ethiopia for coach Tiko Jelisavcic.
He played in some games as Nigeria finished third in the tournament. A few years later, his football career came to an end following a significant injury he sustained while on international duty.
After his playing career, he went into coaching and was In charge of his boyhood club, Julius Berger where he introduced the Jogo Bonito style – a distinct style of flair in Brazilian football.
He got his nickname ‘Jongo Bonito’ because of his preferred style of play with Julius Berger.
He got a national team coaching job later and was part of the crew as a goalkeeper trainer that took Nigeria’s U23 through a successful qualification to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. He was however sacked on the eve of the tournament.
Two years later, he got another national team job and was part of the triumvirate along with Amodu Shuaibu and Stephen Keshi that qualified Nigeria for the 2002 FIFA World Cup and AFCON of the same year.