The former Senior National Team number one goalie’s affliction with cancer was reported a couple of weeks ago, and the news was broken that he died in the early hours of Tuesday in Spain.
“This is very sad coming only two days after the death of Coach Musa Abdullahi. The Nigeria Football Federation became aware of Agbonavbare’s affliction only a couple of weeks ago.
“This is another true hero gone to rest too early. Agbonavbare was a patriot of the first grade and his contributions to Nigeria football on-field can never be forgotten,” Akinwunmi said Tuesday afternoon.
Wilfred Agbonavbare, who played for Rubber Board FC and New Nigeria Bank FC, both of Benin City, was a member of the Super Eagles’ squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia in 1994, and also made the final squad to Nigeria’s debut appearance at the World Cup finals in USA the same year – one of the three goalkeepers, the others being Peter Rufai and Alloy Agu.
He was in the first Nigeria team to qualify for a FIFA World Cup finals – the U-20 squad of 1983. At the finals in Mexico, the team famously defeated USSR but lost 3-0 to Brazil before a 0-0 draw with The Netherlands, exiting at group stage.
The well-built goaltender also represented the senior team at the 1984, 1988 and 1990 Africa Cup of Nations finals, winning silver in all three, before plucking gold in Tunisia in 1994.
He also played for Spanish club, Rayo Vallecano.