By Harry Awurumibe, with agency report
Former junior international football sensation, Philip Osondu has been reported dead today in his base in Belgium.
Osondu’s death has since been confirmed by a family friend who is based in Belgium where he has been residing since retiring from football.
According to the family friend, Osondu popularly known in Aba his birth place during his playing days died on today (Friday) morning as he was said to have felt unwell at work and was later rushed to the hospital where he gave up the ghost.
Osondu played regularly for the youth teams of Nigeria, but never reached the first team- Super Eagles . In 1987 he participated in the FIFA U-16 (now U-17) World Cup final in Canada. Nigeria reached the final, but then lost on penalties to the Soviet Union. He got the World Cup Golden Ball as Best Player of the Tournament.
He featured for Nigeria’s Flying Eagles (U-20 team) which reached the final of the FIFA World Youth Championship but lost on penalties to the Soviet Union.
He got the World Cup Golden Ball as best player of the tournament. participated in the FIFA U-20 World Cup final in 1989 in Saudi Arabia.
The diminutive goal poacher played in his native Nigeria for El Kanemi Warriors when RSC Anderlecht, Belgium bought him to in 1988. The attacker was seen as an emerging football talent and was transferred to Anderlecht that was a promising team.
A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut at the highest level in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989 playing under coach Aad de Mos.
However, there was a lot of competition at Anderlecht with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen which made Osondu appear barely at the games. Between 1990 and 1992 the Nigerian was also loaned to neighbors RWDM.
In 1994 Osondu moved to second division club La Louviere, where the small and technically gifted striker scored five times in twenty matches. A season later he swapped La Louvière during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he completed the rest of the season. Afterwards he played several years for Diegem Sport and FC Merchtem 2000.
Osondu, who was regarded in his own country as a great talent and also received high praise as a youth international, could never fulfill his potential in Belgium. He is often cited as one of many young Africans who went too early to go abroad.
He was born 28 November 1971 in Aba, Abia State