Former Super Eagles captain Austin Jay Jay Okocha has said that the experience he got while playing in the German Bundesliga shaped his football career.
Okocha, who began his football career at the age of 17 with Eintracht Frankfurt spoke yesterday at the commencement of a Bundalisga Legend Tour in Lagos.
He also revealed why he had to dribble goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and the entire defenders of Karlsruhe many time before he scored in their 3-1 win.
Okocha came in as a substitute in Bundesliga fixture between Eintracht Frankfurt and Karlsruhe in 1993. The Nigerian scored his wonder goal, dribbling more Karlsruhe defenders, going past some of them twice, before slotting in past Kahn, who failed despite making many efforts to stop Okocha.
Okocha recalled: “I came from the bench, and when I got the ball, I said to myself this is an opportunity to prove I am not a material for the bench. After I dribbled some of defenders, I wanted to shot at goal but I saw more players blocking my way. That was why I had to dribble and dribble until I was able to free myself. After the match, my coach told me that if I had not scored the goal, it would have been my last chance of playing under him.”
Okocha, a former chairman of Delta FA also spoke on his teenage years in the Bundesliga: “I was 17 years old when I left Nigeria to begin my football career in the Bundesliga. I was just coming out of secondary school without any experience of playing even in the U-17 team. But my desire to succeed made it easy for me to see beyond the food, environment and the language barrier in Germany. I was gifted with the ball, and I saw the opportunity of playing in the Bundesliga as the tool I needed to make a name for myself.”
Okocha wants more Nigerian players to take their soccer trade to Germany saying: “The Bundesliga made me. It was the journey of my life. I got to Germany without being scouted, and without any experience of playing for my country. But I was given the chance to excel. It won’t happen in any other place in Europe. I will advise our kids to go and start their football career in Germany because the challenges you will get even in training is not available anywhere in the world.”
On Egypt 2019 AFCON, Okocha advised that Nigerians should not set target for the Super Eagles: “I am now a big fan of the Super Eagles. We don’t need to set a target for the team. All we need do is to advise the players to give their best. We have the talents to win the trophy, but preparation is the key.”
Meanwhile, the Manager international Marketing, Bundesliga International, Daniel Donaldson has said the Bundesliga enjoyed huge followership in Nigeria following the exploits of Okocha in the German league.