Former Goalkeeper And Super Eagles Assistant Coach, Joe Erico Is Dead
Erico, nicknamed ‘Jogobonito exponent’, passed away on Tuesday morning in Lagos surrounded by his family, after a brief illness.
Confirming this development, a close family member Tomiwa Aghedo, said the country’s coaching icon had died after complaining of stomach ache, Goal reports
I feel sad informing you that coach Joe Erico passed on this morning [Tuesday]. He complained of stomach ache yesterday and he was subsequently rushed to the hospital, where he was told to present his Covid-19 test result before he would be attended to.
Coach Erico went for the test as directed and very early this morning he passed away. It’s terrible news at this point in time and everyone of us is devastated. We are consoled by the fact that he served Nigeria with all his strength and he lived a good life worthy of emulation.
Nigerian football journalist, Shina Oludare also confirmed the news in a tweet, saying,
Former @NGSuperEagles goalkeeping coach Joe Erico has passed on at 72, one of his family members just told me on phone. He had complained of a minor stomach ache on Monday evening and on Tuesday morning [today], he waved the world goodbye. May God grant Jogobonito eternal rest
— Shina Oludare 🇳🇬 (@sportingshina) January 21, 2021
Erico began his football career with the Nigerian Police Force (NEPA) Nigeria Railways, Electricity Connectors of Nigeria and Julius Berger – where he won several diadems.
He attracted the national teams’ selectors in 1968 and he was picked to man Nigeria’s goalpost alongside Prince Zion Ogunfeyimi by coach Tiko Jelisavcic for the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations staged in Ethiopia.
There, he played a crucial role as Jelisavic’s men placed third after defeating Egypt 3-2 in the play-off at the Addis Ababa Stadium.
Sadly, his promising football career came to a halt years later while on international duty.
Erico went into administration and he handled his boyhood club Julius Berger where he introduced the Jogo Bonito style – an aesthetic football philosophy that is based on the tip-tap playing pattern similar to that of Brazilian Samba.
He introduced the style of play in Nigeria in the 90s’ – while still the coach of Julius Berger FC aka Adewale Bridge boys
Erico was part of the coaching crew that qualified the Nigeria U23 squad for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Unfortunately, he was fired on the eve of the competition by Nigeria Football Federation.
Two years later, he was recalled to the national Super Eagles setup as assistant to Amodu Shuaibu. Alongside Amodu and Stephen Keshi, Nigeria qualified for the 2002 World Cup staged in South Korea and Japan. Again, he was axed by NFF after the country placed third at 2002 Afcon in Mali.
A memorable statement of his is;
They [NFF] treated us; Amodu, Keshi & myself badly. I was very angry at the time. I was an angry person. So I went back home, stripped naked and put a curse on Nigeria football.
Coach Erico is survived by his wife and four children. His burial arrangements will be announced in the coming days.
May his soul rest in peace.