Friday, 12 April 2013

My Greatest Regret: Okocha

Former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha is a sad man in retirement. Despite his many achievements playing soccer for Nigeria and some top European clubs, in a career spanning over a decade, Okocha, who will be 40 on August 14, has one particular regret that leaves him in tears when he flashes back at his illustrious time spent on the green turf.

The one thing that the former Bolton Wanderers captain regrets the most is his failure to win the Confederation of African Football-powered  African Footballer of the Year’ award, an award that has been won by former compatriots likes Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba.

Known for his step-overs, skill and  technique, made his official Eagles debut in a 1994World Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast in May 1993. They lost 2-1. It was not until his second cap, that he became a favourite with the Nigerian supporters. With Nigeria trailing the Desert Foxes of Algeria 1–0, in a match they needed to win, he scored from a free kick to equalise, before helping the team to a 4–1 win, eventually securing qualification to their first World Cup. In 1994, he was a member of both the victorious 1994 African Cup of Nations and the World Cup team, who made it to the second round.
Speaking to reporters at the Heineken Champions Planet, where matches of the ongoing UEFA Champions League are screened live to viewers, Okocha said that despite his many accomplishments and laurels in his cabinet that not winning the CAF Player of the year was a taint to his career.

“I was always an ambiguous player during my active days, and winning the Atlanta ’96 Olympic soccer gold for Nigeria was my greatest achievement. But my personal ambition to win the ‘African Footballer of the Year’ award eluded me twice at the time I was at the peak of my career. After winning the BBC African Footballer award on those two occasions, I was optimistic of crowning it with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) award, but the rest is history because I have to move on with my life. It remains the greatest regret that I have”, said Okocha.

Source: Vanguard Nigeria.

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