8 April 2019
Legendary former Nigeria skipper and former coach Christian Chukwu has reportedly been ill for some time and his unknown ailment prompted a benefactor of his former club, Enugu Rangers, to launch a Gofundme effort “hoping to raise about $50,000 to cover Christian Chukwu’s round trip flight from Nigeria and all the medical expenses” in the United States.
Chukwu was a giant of a centre-back for both Enugu Rangers and Nigeria, nicknamed “Chairman” and was captain when Nigeria won their first Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 1980. He was assistant to Dutch coach Clemens Westerhof when Nigeria won it’s second Nations Cup in 1994. Chukwu went on to coach in Lebanon, and the Kenya and Nigeria national teams, as well as Rangers, where he continues to be of iconic status among their fans of a certain vintage.
News of his illness, especially videos showing him struggling to walk, was picked up by the Nigerian media and went viral on social media. But there appears to be more to this story.
Sources in Enugu, where Chukwu is based, indicate that he had some undisclosed medical issues that could have either paralysed or killed him. He was taken to Nikea Specialist Hospital in GRA, Enugu where he was treated by experts including seven consultants. Nikea is headed by three surgeons trained in the United Kingdom.
However, the Charlotte, North Carolina based Enugu Rangers benefactor has revealed that his intention was for Chukwu to be “stabilised” at the hospital before being flown to the US. But those treating Chukwu have a different opinion. One of the doctors has said Chukwu doesn’t need to be flown abroad and certainly doesn’t need $50,000 to be saved from a life-threatening illness, as reported by sections of the Nigerian media, presumably taking their cue from the Gofundme page.
In the meantime, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) reportedly agreed to step in to support the stricken former coach. The Enugu State governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, also got involved and paid some of Chukwu’s hospital bills. Naijiant.com can reveal that the 68 year old has been in the hospital for over three weeks and none of the seven consultants involved in his treatment was of the opinion that he needed to be flown abroad. Chukwu and his family have also not asked for a second opinion. One of the doctors at the hospital indicated that he feels the Gofundme effort was “unnecessary and ill-advised”.
The authorities at the hospital are happy to discharge Chukwu and waive the remainder of his bill if the former coach and his family are keen on him getting a second opinion abroad. The official view from Nikea Specialist Hospital is that Chukwu received “excellent care” there and he has no pressing issues that require further care abroad.
It is unclear what the next steps are for Chukwu, but his fans must be relieved that his life is not in danger and it appears that he is on the road to recovery.