According to Goal.Com, Nigerian football superstar and legend, Jay-Jay Okocha has expressed the biggest disappointment of his career, as well as his football mentor.
The Nigerian soccer legend and former captain has pointed to his failure to secure the African Footballer of the Year award, during his playing days as the thing he regrets most about. He also mentioned his football mentor, the person he admires above every other footballer he has seen and who inspired him to the beautiful game.
Okocha purportedly mentored some very big names in the soccer business, like the incredible Ronaldinho, the Brazilian talisman and wonder.
Okocha had a very wonderful career. During his playing days, he was renowned for his dribbling and finishing skills, which endeared him to many Nigerians, and soccer fans.
Inspite of Okocha's great talent and skill, many Nigerians still believe today that he didn't reach his full potential. They point to the fact that he couldn't win an award that African players he was better than won, the African Footballer Of The Year.
Okocha came close to securing the African Footballer of the Year award three times during his extraordinary career. The first time was in 1998, after his exceptional displays at the Ligue One club, PSG. Okocha unfortunately finished second-place behind, Mustapha Hadji from Morocco.
Okocha was almost named African Footballer Of The Year in 2004, but he fell in the third-place behind fellow African footballers, Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba. Another chance slipped from Okocha's grasp in 2004 after an impressive display at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. Best Player award and the Golden Boot with four goals.
Despite Okocha's failure to clinch the highest award in African football, his still one of the most decorated African football stars, having won several laurels and trophies during his 18-year old career.
Jay-Jay Okocha had this to say in a chat he had with MasterCard.
“And if I’m to say, I’ll say, I regret not winning the African Footballer of the year,”
“But of course, if you look back, there’s always a time that you say oh maybe you could’ve done a bit better than you did.
“I thought I did enough to have won it because it was not a fluke that I won BBC player of the year three years in a row and not manage to win that CAF award, but I mean maybe it was not meant to be.
“Well, I think I don’t want to sound greedy, but I’ve had an amazing career, I never thought I would make it that big.”
The soccer legend also mentioned the Brazilian football icon, Pele, as his mentor.
“The person that influenced me the most is none other than Pele,” he said.
“As a child, growing up we were always talking about him and how great he was on the pitch but then, I was fortunate enough to meet him in 1994 during the Africa Cup of Nations final, and I was impressed with the way he conducted himself off the pitch.
“I was blown away with the way he related with everyone.”
Okocha made his debut for the Nigerian National team, the Super Eagles in 1993. Okocha played 73 matches. He scored a total of scoring 14 goals before ending his international career in 2006.
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