According to the player’s father, Joseph was hit by a stray bullet which was fired by troops battling Niger delta militants on Sunday.
Initial reports had it that 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 was still in the second-tier Nigeria National League.
He was the 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 the 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.”
Shooting Stars of Ibadan also tweeted about his untimely demise: