LITTLE ELM, Texas — Authorities say former Nigerian soccer star Uche Okafor committed suicide at his Dallas-area home this week. He was 43.
Okafor's body was discovered Thursday afternoon by his wife in their house in Little Elm, a town about 30 miles northwest of Dallas. The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday that he hanged himself in an upstairs hallway.
Okafor played for the Kansas City Wizards from 1996 to 2000. He appeared in 119 league games (130 in all competitions). He was a member of the 2000 MLS Cup-winning squad, but didn't play much after losing his starting spot due to injury.
Okafor played on the 1994 Super Eagles team that won the African Cup of Nations. Nigeria reached the second round of the World Cup that year and again in 1998, with Okafor on the team both times.Sporting Kansas City has quotes from former teammates/coaches:
Former KC coach Bob Gansler: "One would not have thought that such a tragedy would involve Uche. We are less one outstanding individual today, that’s for sure."
Diego Gutierrez, former teammate in 1996-97: "He was very influential for us. We had a good, good defensive line, and it was led by Uche. With his experience and his international pedigree, he was the rock for us. Hearing of his passing is a tremendous blow, because he wasn't just a good soccer player, he was a tremendous person. He was always upbeat."
Alexi Lalas, former teammate during the 1999 season: "He would laugh and smile with everybody. He had one of the all-time great laughs in MLS history. But behind that laugh, there was this incredibly tenacious beast of a defender. You didn't want to be on the end of a Uche Okafor tackle, I can tell you that. It was a real honor to know him and to play along side him.