The words in the national anthem, ‘The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’ have been aptly demonstrated by the response of Nigerians to the plight of former national team captain and coach, Christian Chukwu.
Chukwu, who captained Nigeria to its first African Nations Cup triumph in 1980, has been down with an undisclosed ailment with projections showing he needs at least a $50,000 treatment to get back to his feet.
The Enugu State government and the club he captained and coached for several years, Enugu Rangers have taken care of his initial treatment. He has been discharged from Nike Clinic, Enugu and taken to a secluded hotel to keep him away from ‘sympathisers,’ who had been thronging his house to wish him well.
But the biggest show of love has come from Nigerians from far and wide, who have been donating money to ensure he gets the best treatment abroad.
Delta State politician, Ned Nwoko led the way with a N5 million donation, a few hours before oil magnet, Femi Otedola volunteered to foot the bill for Chukwu’s treatment abroad.
Before then, many Nigerians had trooped to a ‘Gofundme’ account opened for the national team icon to contribute to the cause. At the last count, the Gofundme account has yielded $4, 414.
An impressed Enugu Rangers official told The Guardian yesterday that Nigerians’ response to Chukwu’s case has given him renewed faith in the country.
He said, “Chukwu is not somebody that will go cap in hand to beg for assistance in this kind of situation. Although he is not a billionaire, he is well to do to an extent.
“However, he is very happy with how Nigeria has reacted to his case. It has helped his confidence.”
The official, who pleaded anonymity, said the medical director of Nike Clinic believes Chukwu’s case was not such that would not be handled in the country, adding, “the doctors are still observing him.”
Although he did not disclose the nature of coach’s ailment, the official said, “Chukwu has been complaining of osteoarthritis, which he attributes to the hazards of football.
“He has been managing the case for a long time, but now he is thinking of going abroad to seek second opinion.”