Kelechi Emeteole alias Caterpillar is definitely not a strange name in the Nigerian soccer scene, either as a soccer maestro or a coach of repute.
What will however shock his colleagues, friends, the several players that passed through his tutelage and soccer administrators nationwide, is that Caterpillar is now engaged in a fierce battle for his life.
Sports Vanguard, who got wind of the renowned coach’s poor health yesterday, traced him to his modest residence in Owerri, Imo State capital.
One of the initial shocks that hit Sports Vanguard was the inability of the once very vibrant Emeteole, to speak to his visitor.
Since the world must be told about the current travails of Emeteole, his caring wife, Lolo Phoebe Emeteole, successfully filled the gap and narrated their story.
“About December 2015, my husband lost his voice, after his last match between El Kanemi Warriors and Heartland Football Club of Owerri.
“We did not see the current loss of his voice as unusual. He lost it severally in the past and regained it. We honestly thought it would be back, as was previously the case.
“By January 16, 2016, the problem was persistent and we went to the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, FMCO, in February, for medical attention. They asked their usual questions, took the medical history and did some examinations. The doctor said that there was a growth in his voice box. They also told us that they needed to do a biopsy to ascertain the type of growth that was seen in the voice box.
“The biopsy was carried out. The doctors looked at the result of the biopsy and blamed it on infection. They prescribed drugs for the suspected infection and my husband religiously took the medication, but he never got better.
“We went back to FMCO in June 2016. They checked again and still returned a diagnosis of infection. Hoping that the FMCO doctors were right, we relaxed, but in October 2016, he started finding it very difficult to breathe.
“This situation alarmed us and we went to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH. It was here that they discovered that the strange tumor had blocked his wind pipe. The doctors did a tracheotomy. They also wanted to carry out another biopsy but found that he now has a heart condition. This prevented the doctors from going on with the planned biopsy.
“We stayed over a month in LUTH before a concerned citizen told us of a certain medical Professor in Enugu that could successfully manoeuvre his way and carry out the biopsy. We left LUTH for Enugu, where the biopsy was carried out. The result was that the growth had become malignant and eaten deeply into the tissues.
“With this latest finding, we started making inquiries about where we can get the best medical attention. We have identified and contacted a hospital in India and they have told us that the treatment will gulp $11,000, excluding air fare, feeding, accommodation and local runs.
“Caterpillar’s former employers, Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Heartland Football Club of Owerri and El Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, are all owing him huge sums of money. If he had been paid his due, by the various club managements, we would have since flown him abroad for treatment. They should please invoke their milk of human kindness and pay us now that we are in serious need of money to take care of his health.
“Meanwhile, we passionately appeal to good spirited individuals and corporate bodies to please, come to our assistance. The time to act is now”, Lolo Emetole pleaded.
Kelechi’s wife can be reached on 08037892942