Lewis Stevenson saddened by death at 40 of former Hibs team-mate
News that Junior Agogo had passed away, aged just 40, was a visible blow to former Hibernian team-mate Lewis Stevenson.
It was just over seven years ago that the Ghanaian striker signed up for a short spell at Easter Road and while the club’s longest-serving player says he did not stay in regular contact with the experienced frontman, who enjoyed stints in the United States, Cyprus and Egypt but spent most of his career in England, Stevenson says he will be remembered fondly, as a “lovely guy” who was “larger than life”.
The former Nottingham Forest and Bristol Rovers forward spent the final months of his career in Leith, making 14 appearances and scoring once but, despite a long and successful spell in the game, starring at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in a Ghana team that also included Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan, he retained a sense of humility and the desire to be a team player – even if he wasn’t a huge fan of Scottish football.
“He used to moan about the direct football,” said Stevenson. “He always wanted the ball played to feet and he wasn’t happy with the Scottish long-ball tactics. Off the pitch he was brilliant, though.
“He was larger than life and a real character. Quite rightly, he came with a big reputation because he had done a lot in his career and scored some goals at the African Nations, which he used to always talk about!”
His three goals in that tournament, where Ghana finished third, included a late winner against Nigeria.
“There was no denying that he had made a bit of money in his career but he was really down to earth and he was a lovely guy with everyone,” revealed Stevenson. But, he did enjoy certain rewards and as a result his vehicle did stand out among the others in the club car park.
“He used to park his Maserati next to my Honda Civic! Maybe in a joking sense he would wind you up about things like that but you could take it because he was joking and he worked hard for the team and wanted the best for everybody.”
Signed by Colin Calderwood in July 2011, Agogo played between August and November that year but when Calderwood was sacked, Agogo found himself stuck on the sidelines and surplus to requirements by new manager Pat Fenlon.
The Irishman’s arrival signalled the end of the road for Agogo at Hibs and, three months later in February 2012, he hung up his boots.
Having suffered a stroke in 2015, Agogo had been struggling with his speech and had battled enduring health issues since but the news of his death still came as a shock to everyone at the capital club.
“On behalf of the club and all our staff, I send my best wishes to his family,” said Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom, who played against the Ghanaian in England.
“In football, we’re competing against each other all the time but there is a tight-knit group and you are part of that bigger family. It’s sad news.
“I didn’t know him personally but that doesn’t matter. It’s sad. 40 years old is nothing. It doesn’t matter whatever age someone is, it’s always sad but it tends to be more dramatic when it is someone young and someone who is perceived to be fit. It’s the last thing you expect.”
“I have him on Instagram and he seemed to be living a healthy life,” added Stevenson. “I knew he was into running so he must have been trying to get back to fitness. He is not someone I properly kept in touch with but he was a big figure and he came here with a massive reputation but he was a lovely guy and this isn’t something you want to hear about, especially when it’s a former team-mate.”