Referee Hounnake-Kouassi of Togo showed a yellow card to Samuel Okwaraji in the 71st minute of the Italia 1990 World Cup qualifying match between Nigeria and Angola at the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos, August 12, 1989. He collapsed and died few minutes later.
Samuel Okwaraji was born on 19 May 1964 in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria.
Samuel Okwaraji was a professional footballer who played internationally for Nigeria. He was also a qualified lawyer who had a Masters in International Law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.
Okwaraji had a career in Europe which included playing for AS Roma (1984-1985), NK Dinamo Zagreb (1985-1986), Austria Klagenfurt (1986-1987), Vfb Stuttgart (1987-1989) and SSV Ulm 1846 (loan) (1987-1988) while finishing his education in law.
In his short stay with Dinamo Zagreb, Samuel scored 3 goals in a friendly game vs NK Budućnost Hodošan. The game was played on 30 April 1986, and Dinamo Zagreb won 12–0. Samuel’s only official game for Dinamo in the Yugoslavia First League was as a substitute on 18 May 1986 against FK Pristina. The game was played at Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, the 29th round of 1985/86 season. Dinamo Zagreb won 4:3.
He was playing with Belgian side K. Berchem at the time of his death.
He made the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year’s African Nations Cup where he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. He played along until the final match, where the Eagles lost to their perennial rivals Cameroon by a lone goal.
Okwaraji also made 4 appearances for the Nigerian Olympic team in 1988, one during the qualifiers, and 3 at the Olympics in Nigeria’s 3 games in the group D.
He collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola on 12th of August 1989.
He died from possible complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as an autopsy showed that the 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.