Stephen Keshi: Brawler, talker and most successful black African coach of all time

Stephen Keshi is one of two people to win the Cup of Nations as a player and manager, and the only black African ever to coach at a World Cup. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images

The first time I met Stephen Keshi was in 2002. He was lying on a sun-lounger by a pool in a hotel in Bamako and I was one of about a dozen journalists crouched at his feet, eager for the views of the great centre-back turned assistant coach. The next time I saw him, four years later, he was fighting Emmanuel Adebayor on a bus in Cairo.

The last time I spoke to him was from a car park outside a warehouse in Johannesburg that, it turned out, stocked poles for erotic dancing as I interrupted my journey to the airport to find out whether he had actually resigned or was engaged in an act of remarkable brinkmanship.

Keshi, who died on Tuesday evening aged just 54, was a brilliant coach. He was a talker, a brawler and a politician. He had the thickest hide and deepest laugh of anybody at any Africa Cup of Nations over the past two decades.

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