Philip Osondu, who was the star boy of Nigeria’s Under-17 Golden Eaglets’ exploit in Canada in 1987, is dead.
He reportedly died in Belgium at the age of 48 after taking self to the hospital to be examined on Thursday.
According to the Nation, Osondu was said to have felt unwell at work and decided to visit the hospital where he subsequently died.
Osondu played regularly for the youth teams of Nigeria, but never reached the first team.
In 1987 he participated in the World U-16 tournament in Canada. Nigeria reached the final, but then lost on penalties to the Soviet Union.
He got the World Cup Golden Ball as best player of the tournament.
Osondu was born on 28 November, 1971. He played in Belgium for teams, including RSC Anderlecht and RWDM.
Osondu played in his native Nigeria for El Kanemi Warriors when RSC Anderlecht brought him to Belgium in 1988. The attacker was seen as an emerging football talent and was transferred to Anderlecht that was a promising team. A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut at the highest level in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989 playing under coach Aad de Mos.
However, there was a lot of competition at Anderlecht with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen which made Osondu appear barely at the games. Between 1990 and 1992 the Nigerian was also loaned to neighbors RWDM.
When RWDM got Osondu, coach Hugo Broos gave him more playing opportunities. For the first time in the First Division, he also found the back of the goal. Osondu scored his first goal in a 4-1 win over Beerschot VAV. A year later Broos left for Club Brugge and was succeeded by Ladislav Novák. This led to fewer opportunities to play for Osondu, which in the summer led to his return to Anderlecht.
In 1994, Osondu moved to second division club La Louviere, where the small and technically gifted striker scored five times in twenty matches. A season later he swapped La Louvière during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he completed the rest of the season. Afterwards he played several years for Diegem Sport and FC Merchtem 2000.
Osondu, who was regarded in his own country as a great talent and also received high praise as a youth international, could never fulfill his potential in Belgium.