Former African Players of the year Perpetua Nkwocha and Mercy Akide-Udoh have expressed their sadness over the passing away of former teammate Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie Chiejine (smallie).
The late Chiejine passed on on Wednesday at Lagos after a brief illness to the surprise of the Nigeria Football fraternity and the Sporting World at large.
Reacting to the news, one of Chiejine’s teammates at the historic 1999 World Cup squad, Mercy Akide-Udoh simply said:
“Too soon to leave us… You are going to be missed”
Another of Chiejine’s teammates in former Super Falcons striker, Perpetual Nkwocha described her as an exemplary character and a role model to the upcoming generation.
‘Today is a dark day for Women’s Football in Nigeria. Honestly, I am in shock. She was a great lady. Humble to the core an exemplary character and a role model to the upcoming generation. May God grant her eternal rest’
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has said it is ‘terribly saddened’ at news of the death on Chiejine.
General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, was momentarily speechless after being informed of the passing of the former player.
“This is huge shock. We had no idea that she was sick. Ifeanyi was one of the most naturally gifted players to have featured for the Super Falcons. Her death at such a young age is a big blow.
“She gave one hundred percent of her ability and capacity each time she turned out for country. We will always remember her as a bundle of skill and energy, and as a patriotic individual who wore the green-white-green with a smile every time.”
FIFA on their part have paid tribute to the departed Chiejine.
FIFA in a tweet on Thursday said:
Our sincere condolences to all the Nigerian Football Authority.
The 36 –year old captained the first set of the Falconets that featured at the inaugural edition of the FIFA U19 Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2002. The competition would be renamed FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup six years later.
Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie Chiejine featured for the Super Falcons at three FIFA World Cup finals (USA 1999, USA 2003 and China 2007); the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games; four Women Africa Cup of Nations finals (South Africa 2000, Nigeria 2002, Nigeria 2006 and Equatorial Guinea 2008) and; at the women’s football tournament of the 9th All-Africa Games in Algiers in 2007.
Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie Chiejine last played professionally for SSVSM-Kairat Almaty in the Kazakhstani Championship. She also played for FC Indiana in USA’s W-League, KMF Kuopio and PK-35 Vantaa in Finland and Zvezda Perm in Russia.