Nigeria Premier League defender Izu Joseph has been shot dead in his hometown of Okaki in oil-rich southern Bayelsa state, it was reported on Monday.
The player’s father said Joseph was killed accidentally by troops battling Niger delta militants on Sunday.
Initial reports said Joseph was killed at a restricted area by soldiers on a raid, with his identity as a footballer only established after he had been shot.
The powerful central defender joined Shooting Stars from Bayelsa United when the Ibadan club were still in the second-tier Nigeria National League.
He was man of the match at champions Rangers when Shooting Stars drew 1-1 this past season.
The Sports Writers Association (SWAN) commented: “It is indeed a great loss not only to 3SC, but also to the football fraternity in Nigeria.”
It urged government to beef up security across the country to prevent a “recurrence of the avoidable incident that claimed the life of our valuable footballer, Izu Joseph.”
Nigerian troops are deployed to the Niger delta where militants have been attacking oil facilities since the start of the year, cutting output and hammering government revenue at a time of low crude prices.