By Johnny Edward.
Former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha, has revealed that his choice of club may have denied him the chance to win the African Footballer of The Year award during his playing days.
Okocha who starred for Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, Paris Saint-Germain Bolton Wanderer, Qatar SC and Hull City before quitting the scene in 2008 at aged 34 was the African Footballer of the Year runner-up in 1998 and he finished third twice in 2003 and 2004.
He was also a member of the ‘golden generation’ of Nigerian football stars – alongside Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi and Finidi George who last represented Nigeria in 2006, appeared for the Super Eagles 75 times with 14 goals to his name.
Okocha said he opted to join clubs that offered better wages, than top clubs that tabled less lucrative contracts.
“I would have loved to win the African Footballer of the Year during my days,” Okocha said in an interview on Arise TV.
“Maybe I was in the wrong club at that time. It is one award I would have loved to win; it was not easy for an African player to play for top clubs because they don’t pay high wages. When they offer you a contract, the money is small because they see it as doing you a favour.
“That is why I went for clubs that are ready to pay me higher; I go for the higher bidder. I had to turn down some offers from big clubs because of wage issues. But things have changed now, as Africans and Nigerians get bigger football contracts overseas.”
Despite his huge talents and a near-20-year career, Okocha only won the Atatürk Cup with Fenerbahce as well as the Trophée des Champions and UEFA Intertoto Cup with Paris Saint-Germain.
Okocha, who helped Nigeria win Olympic football gold in 1996, also won the BBC African Footballer of the Year twice in 2003 and 2004.
A member of the ‘golden generation of Nigerian football stars – alongside Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi and Finidi George – Okocha was