Hernán Crespo, Argentine football legend, on Saturday said Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha is the greatest Nigerian player. Crespo said he would never forget playing against Nigeria’s ex-internationals, especially the hard-tackling Taribo West and Celestine Babayaro, who were his teammates at Inter Milan and Chelsea, respectively.
He said: “In my career I met a lot of players I had respect for and I would never forget players like West, Babayaro, Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Amokachi, Sunday Oliseh and George Finidi.
“However I think the greatest player so far in Nigeria was Austin Okocha,” he said.
Crespo, who is in Nigeria for the first time as a guest of the Heineken Group, made the comments at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos.
The Argentine attributed the success of his over 18 years football career to respect for others which, he said, was one of the fundamental values of life.
“As a young player, I love the game of football but one fundamental thing I learnt along the way was respect for the game, my teammates and fans of football,” he said.
“As I grew older in football, I also learnt that it was very important to respect my opponents as well; indeed, it has been a worthwhile experience for me.
“I am in Nigeria because I want to have the opportunity to meet people, to support my passion and most importantly support Heineken and their vision for the UEFA Champions League.”
With over 300 goals during his career, Crespo was regarded as one of the deadliest strikers in the history of European and World football.
He played for Argentinian club side River Plate and Italian sides such as Parma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Genoa and Lazio.
Crespo won the 2005 English Premiership League title with Chelsea.