Austin Okocha reveals “lucky” decision on his way to stardom
He is one of the greatest footballers Nigeria has ever had. Austin Jay Jay Okocha has revealed one lucky decision that helped him to stardom.
Speaking on ARISE NEWS on Saturday May 13, 2023, Okocha lampooned ills in the Nigeria football system which he admits could have made it difficult for him to improve as a footballer if he was not lucky to travel out early.
“The difference is that in Europe you have everything you need to improve as a player and you’re playing under better coaches and a better environment. In Nigeria, we lack facilities and that disturbs one’s opportunity to perform and bring out the best in a young player.
“I was lucky that I left Nigeria early,” Okocha said.
In 1990 after few months with Enugu Rangers FC, young Okocha travelled to West Germany on a visit. There he stayed with close friend Binebi Numa who played for German third division club Borussia Neunkirchen.
As one with love for the game, Okocha tagged along with Numa for his teams training sessions. One day, he was granted permission to train with the group and did just enough to impress the coaches to offer him a contract.
There his journey to stardom began and within one year, Bundesliga side Eintract Frankfurt signed him up from FC Saarbrucken.
This meteoric rise the former Super Eagles captain believes may have been truncated if he did not travel out of Nigeria.
When asked about his value in the current era, Okocha like in March 2023 remarked that he will cost 150m in transfer in the current market rate.
“Well, I think if you look at the market now and what PSG paid for me, in 1998 when I was at my peak, I would say that I’m within the region of 120 to 150 million pounds now.,” Okocha continued.
” If Chelsea can pay 106 million pounds for Enzo who is a defensive midfield player, I don’t see why they shouldn’t pay more for an attacking midfielder.”
The legendary midfielder excelled in the sport from 1990 to 2008 rising through the youth teams to the Super Eagles and had words of admonition for young Nigerians players eyeing a long and successful career to stay humble and disciplined.
Also in his comments was a congratulatory message for compatriot Victor Osimhen, for his record breaking performance with Italian Serie A champions Napoli this season.
On Osimhen, Okocha said “He has done extremely well and in my opinion he should maintain that hunger. Stay humble, don’t get carried away and most importantly, maintain that discipline.”
A model for millions of youngsters around the world, a television series titled “Jay Jay: The Chosen One”, will be on DSTV Showmax with stories of young “Jay Jay” who plays football with his friends and bringing good tidings to their communities.
“I just wanted something for the kids for them to know that your superheroes could be your neighbors.” the 50-year old said of the TV series.