Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Nigeria can’t bring out best in young players – Okocha

Austin Okocha, former Super Eagles midfielder, has attributed the success of his football career to his “luck” of leaving Nigeria early.

Okocha spoke in a chat with Arise TV on Saturday.

The 49-year-old was known for his flair and dribbling prowess. He is also touted as Nigeria’s most skilful footballer.

He was a member of the Nigerian U-23 team that won gold medal in the football event at the Atlanta ’96 Olympics. Okocha was also part of the Eagles side that won the 1994 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Tunisia.

Okocha began his football career with Enugu Rangers before travelling to Europe at the age of 17 on vacation and he caught the eyes of Borussia Neunkirchen in Germany’s third division during an impromptu training session.

Reflecting on his journey as a footballer, Okocha said Nigeria lacks the environment and facilities to aid the development of young players to their full potential.

He added that his early sojourn to Europe afforded the important structure that enable his growth.

“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,” he said.

“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. I did not go in the typical way where players would be scouted and moved abroad. Rather, I went abroad on my own I was able to make it despite the difficulty.”

Okocha went on to play for Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbache, Paris Saint Germain (PSG), and Bolton Wanderers, among others.

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