- Associated Press - Friday, January 7, 2011

LITTLE ELM, TEXAS (AP) - Uche Okafor, a defender on two World Cup teams for Nigeria who later played for the Kansas City Wizards in the U.S., has been found dead in his Dallas-area home, police said Friday. 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, Detective Oscar Hinojosa said. The official cause of death was pending.

Police were not describing it as a homicide or a suicide, “we’re just saying it’s a death,” Hinojosa told The Associated Press. A spokesman for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office said Okafor’s body would be examined Friday.

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. He didn’t play in 1994 and played in one match in the first round in 1998, a 3-1 loss to Paraguay after they had beaten Spain and Bulgaria. He didn’t play in the 2nd round loss to Denmark

“We are totally shocked by the news. Uche Okafor was a great player who represented his country at the highest level,” said Musa Amadu, acting secretary general of the Nigerian Football Federation.

Okafor played for the Wizards from 1996 to 2000.

A friend who could not reach Okafor called Ifeyinwa Okafor, the former star’s wife, police said.

“She was at work and she came home and found him,” Hinojosa said.

___

Associated Press writers Diana Heidgerd and Danny Robbins in Dallas, and Yinka Ibukun and Jon Gambrell in Lagos, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

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