American United Soccer League (USL) side Austin Bold yesterday led the way with tributes following the sudden death of former Nigeria youth international Isaac Promise late Wednesday night.
The 31-year-old who captained the national U-17 (golden Eaglets), U-20 (Flying Eagles) and U-23 (Olympic Eagles), reportedly collapsed at his apartment gym in Austin-Texas in the USA.
Austin Bold’s Chairman Bobby Epstein posted on Twitter: “The greatest loss a team can suffer is not on the scoreboard, it’s the death of a fellow teammate.
“It’s with shock and grief that we acknowledge the sudden death of Promise Isaac.
“On behalf of the BOLD organisation; we wish his wife, children and family strength and peace as they struggle to cope with his death.”
Similarly, 3SC goalkeepers’ trainer, Kola Ige who was in the Promise-captained Flying Eagles squad that won silver at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Holland in 2005 also paid a glowing tribute: “I’m still in shock because a radio station here in Ibadan just called me over the death of Isaac Promise.
“It’s so unfortunate because he was such a loving and nice person. I remember our days in the Flying Eagles; he always had something to give everyone and he would personally knock on my door to deliver his gifts. He was such a nice person. He was a leader and role model.”
Several former national teammates of Promise hoisted the fallen hero on their social media status with Shanghai Shenhua striker Odion Ighalo saying: ‘Painful exit; RIP, Isaac Promise.’
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has described as ‘shocking’, reports on demise of Promise.
NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said the Federation and entire Nigerian Football was greatly saddened by the report, coming less than 48 hours after two women footballers of Nigeria Women Professional League side, Police Female Machine FC of Uyo were crushed to death by a hit-and-run driver after a training session in the Akwa Ibom State capital.
Sanusi Said: “This has been a tragic week for Nigerian Football. Isaac Promise was a very disciplined, energetic, committed and patriotic player who gave his all every time he put on the green-and-white shirt.
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“We do not know yet the cause of death, but we mourn his untimely passing at such a young age. Our prayer is that God will grant his soul eternal rest and also grant those he has left behind the fortitude to bear the big loss.”
Promise was captain of the Nigeria U20 squad that won the 2005 African Youth Championship (later renamed U20 Cup of Nations) in Benin Republic with a flourish and finished as runner-up at the FIFA U20 World Cup in The Netherlands the same year, losing narrowly to Argentina (complete with Lionel Messi) in the final.
He also captained the Nigeria U23 team that won silver medals at the men’s football tournament of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, again finishing second behind Lionel Messi-led Argentina.
He also captained the U17 team in 2003.