The Nigerian sports family is mourning the death of a former Super Eagles defender, Yisa Sofoluwe.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Wednesday, said Sofoluwe who died on Tuesday was somebody who came before his time.
Dare, in a statement issued by his Media Office, said he was deeply shocked and sad to learn of Sofoluwe’s demise, especially as he died when help was on its way.
Aged 54, Sofoluwe died on Tuesday at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.
“The news of Sofoluwe’s death is quite devastating and one that hit me like a tornado. He was a great, committed, disciplined, humble and patriotic player.
“He came ahead of his time. No wonder he was nicknamed ‘the Dean of Defence’ by ace commentator Ernest Okonkwo,” the Sports Minister said.
While expressing his condolences and prayers to Sofoluwe’s wife, children, former teammates and the football community, Dare noted that Sofoluwe died just when help was on the way for him.
“He died just when help was on the way for him to pay for his surgery. But his death is a huge loss. Rest in peace ‘Dean of Defence’,” the minister said.
The minister had last week sent some undisclosed amount of money to one of Sofoluwe’s ex-teammates to pay part of his hospital bills.
Plans were also on to get the Lagos State Government to pay for his surgery.
The Punch had reported the former left-back was initially diagnosed of mild cerebral atrophy at the Prince and Life Medical Hospital, Ikorodu, Lagos, but was moved to LUTH last Friday after his medical condition worsened.
However, close friends of the former Nigeria International defender confirmed late Tuesday night that the man fondly called the ‘Dean of Defence’ lost the battle to stay alive.
“We lost a gem again in the legendary Yisa Otobo Shofoluwe minister of defence rest in peace,” former star player of Stationery Stores and friend to Sofoluwe, Taiwo Oloyede said Tuesday night
Sofoluwe had 40 appearances for the national team in which he scored once.
He was a member of the Eagles squads which reached the final of the 1984 and 1988 AFCON tournaments.
Sofoluwe’s death comes a few days after that of another former Nigeria International Joe Erico.