Samuel Okwaraji

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Samuel Okwaraji
Personal information
Full name Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji
Date of birth (1964-05-19)19 May 1964
Place of birth Orlu, Nigeria
Date of death 12 August 1989(1989-08-12) (aged 25)
Place of death Lagos, Nigeria
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1984–1985 AS Roma
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1985–1986 Dinamo Zagreb 1 (0)
1986–1987 Austria Klagenfurt ? (?)
1987–1989 VfB Stuttgart 0 (0)
1987–1988 SSV Ulm (loan) 28 (5)
National team
1988–1989 Nigeria 8 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji (19 May 1964 – 12 August 1989) was born on 19 May 1964 in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria. Okwaraji was a professional footballer who played internationally for Nigeria. He was also a qualified lawyer who had a masters in international law from the University of Rome.[1] He collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos State on 12 August 1989.


Okwaraji had a career in Europe which included playing for AS Roma (1984-1985), NK Dinamo Zagreb (1985-1986), Austria Klagenfurt (1986-1987), VfB Stuttgart (1987-1989) and SSV Ulm 1846 (loan) (1987-1988) while finishing his education in law. In his short stay with Dinamo Zagreb, Samuel scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan. The game was played on 30 April 1986, and Dinamo Zagreb won 12-0. Samuel's only official game for Dinamo in the Yugoslav First League was as a substitute on 18 May 1986 against FK Priština. The game was played at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, the 29th round of 1985/86 season. Dinamo Zagreb won 4:3.

International career[edit]

He made the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year's African Nations Cup he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. He played along until the final match, where the Eagles lost to their perennial rivals Cameroon by a lone goal.

Last game and death[edit]

Okwaraji collapsed ten minutes from the end of a 1990 World Cup qualifier against Angola in Lagos and died from congestive heart failure. An autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure. The sudden death was similar to that of Marc-Vivien Foé less than 14 years later.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Okwaraji comes alive in Abuja at African Soccer Union.
  1. 13 Years After Special tribute by Tokunbo Ojo.
  2. Sam Okwaraji's Bust
  3. Okwaraji: Thumbs down for FG, NFA[permanent dead link]
  4. 2 decades after a Patriot's death
  5. Nigeria remembers fallen hero Samuel Okwaraji 20 years after at

External sources[edit]