Chinedu Udoji: Nigerian football pays tribute to late Kano Pillars defender

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Enyimba chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu has led the tributes to Kano Pillars defender Chinedu Udoji following his tragic passing on Sunday.

The centre-back's passing was announced by Sai Masu Gida on their official Twitter handle on Monday after the defender was involved in a car crash following the 1-1 draw between Pillars and his former club Enyimba on Sunday.

The 28-year-old had been to visit his former teammates in the aftermath of the draw, and leaves behind a wife and two children.

His death has prompted an outpouring of grief from the Nigerian footballing fraternity and beyond, with many taking to social media to pay tribute to the former People's Elephant skipper.

"Words can convey neither the depth of our pain nor the intensity of our anguish," Enyimba Chairman Felix Anyansi Agwu wrote in a club statement released on their official Twitter handle.

"What we can do in this hour of sadness, however, is to pray for God to strengthen the family he leaves behind, the teammates he so passionately inspired and his friends and fans across the country."

The defender captained the domestic giants to the Nigeria Professional Football League title in 2015 and the Federation Cup in 2014.

"He was a ferocious captain and leader on the pitch, but a warm and gentle friend off it," the statement continued. "A legend worthy of the Enyimba captaincy, he will remain in our hearts forever."

"We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of one of the NPFL's finest defenders," wrote Nigeria's League Management Committee on their official handle. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Chinedu Udoji's family, Kano Pillars and NPFL clubs."

Super Eagles legend Mutiu Adepoju and reigning NPFL top scorer Anthony Okpotu also paid tribute to the defender on social media, while the national side's media office Toyin Ibitoye shared his reaction to the stopper's passing.

"I can't be waking up to this kind of news," he wrote. "How, when, where did this happen?

"I am utterly devastated."

Kano Pillars' rivals and reigning Nigerian champions Plateau United also offered their homage to "one of the NPFL's best defenders" on their @plateauutdfc handle, and Lobi Stars, Enugu Rangers, Sunshine Stars and Rivers United were just some of the clubs who also offered their condolences following the tragic news.

Current NPFL players such as Ifeanyi Nweke, Ibrahim Mustapha Yuga and Ojo Olorunleke have also taken to social media to convey their distress at Udoji's premature passing.