By Uche Dozie
Football Writer, Nigeria
Forrmer Super Falcons of Nigeria attacking midfielder Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie Chiejine has died on Wednesday at the age of 36 after a brief illness.
Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie “Smally” Chiejine was born 17 May 1983 in the Delta State of Asaba. One of nine children (5 sisters and 3 brothers), Chiejine emulated Michael Owen growing up and started playing football when she was 10-years-old.
She became prominent in Nigerian football as a teenager. She played for the Flying Babes Football Club, the Federal Capital Territory Queens of Abuja, and the Pelican Stars of Calabar, Chiejine thrilled crowds. At 15 her exciting combination of speed, agility, flexibility and and goalscoring ability opened national team doors for the rising star.
Chiejine was the youngest player at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Nigeria’s captain at 2002 Under 19 World Cup, She won 58 caps for the Super Falcons of Nigeria, featured at three African Women’s Championships (1998, 2000, 2002) and the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games.
The player who stood a metre 1.6 in heights leaves the World leaving behind a multitude of persons to mourn her.
“She was a good and exciting player,” said former Falcons team captain and coach Florence Omagbemi.
The striker played for SSVSM-Kairat Almaty in the Kazakhstani Championship, FC Indiana in USA’s W-League, KMF Kuopio and PK-35 Vantaa in Finland and Zvezda Perm in Russia.
Her sumptuous goal and subsequent backflips in the group stage game against Mali in Warri at AWC 2002 remain fresh in the memory of Nigerians till date.
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