“Hard work is no guarantee for success, but it’s usually the absolute minimum needed for success” Cyril C. Nwokeji
” There are many ways to achieve success in life.” Cyril C. Nwokeji
“The doors of life open to those who push hardest.” Anonymous
” The destiny of one’s life is entirely of God’s.” Cyril C. Nwokeji
“God gives success, we can only make an effort as humans.” Cyril C. Nwokeji very special congratulations to Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, on the attainment of 47 years on planet earth!
Yours sincerely will use this piece to reminisce briefly on his illustrious soccer career.
Austin Okocha, is certainly one of the most highly talented players ever to have laced the soccer boots on planet earth! His presence in the Super Eagles of Nigeria, not only raised the standards of mid-field display, but contributed immensely in raising the team’s general standards.
A friend of mine in Belgium, in 1993, told me about a highly talented Nigerian player who played for Eintrancht Franfurt, a German first division team. It made me curious; and after watching his brilliant display, for his club side, one came to the conclusion he was indeed a great player!
As earlier stated, his presence in the Super Eagles’ mid-field changed to all intents and purposes the Super Eagles’ mid-field’s ‘destiny’!
When he was introduced in the World cup qualifier between the Super Eagles and the “Elephants” of Ivory Coast, in Abidjan in 1993, his presence in the team changed the usual way of doing business, particularly in the mid-field! He brought dynamism, quintessence, effervescence, shine, lustre and all round brilliance to the Super Eagles’ mid-field; and by implication to the entire team’s display!
Details of his performance in that match and in the other matches played for Nigeria are chronicled in my book, which reference is given at the end of this piece.
He was a player who did the impossible, on the field of play, with the round leather! A former Super Eagles’ player said, Austin Okocha ‘resolved’ all problems on the soccer pitch, in the training sessions as well as in a match situation. In other words, if in the course of a match, a player got himself in an entanglement with opposition players he couldn’t resolve, all that player needed to do was to pass the ball to Austin Okocha, and with his quintessential skills, would ‘resolve’ the problem, without losing the ball to the opponents!
He is a young man who rose from grass to grace! A young man who came from a humble background; who even hawked wares in the streets as a way of helping the family’s economy. A young man who made it to the stadium as a ball boy during matches. He of course played soccer in the streets, and in the process displayed his superb talent. A superb talent which coupled with a decent measure of common sense, which he displayed by exhibiting: discipline and hard work, and of course a decent measure of good luck, piloted himself and by implication his family out of poverty, to become one of the most successful soccer players ever to have come out of Africa, nay the entire universe!
Needless saying he is a very wealthy man, a multi-millionaire! Considering his very humble beginnings, that is no mean achievement! Also considering the fact some highly talented soccer players, made a mess of their talent, no thanks to indiscipline, one cannot but admire the achievements of Austin “Jay Jay” Okocha!!!!!!
In other words, he exploited his God-given talent to rise not only to the absolute top of his soccer career, but also to the top financially/materially !
However, one regrettable thing about his soccer career, was his inability to be crowned “African footballer of the year”. A number of less talented African players got this award/reward. In 2004, it was generally believed he deserved it, considering his then sterling performances for club and country. But, apparently, the ‘politics’ in CAF tilted the balance in favour of another player!
This fact notwithstanding, he will go down in history as one of the most highly talented players ever to have come out of Africa, nay planet earth. The great Pele, noted him as one of the best 100 players ever to have laced the soccer boots on planet earth!!!!!!!
He together with his senior brother Emma, played for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. And his nephew, Alex Iwobi, is currently the Super Eagles’ mid-field generalissimo! A great soccer family indeed !!!!
In conclusion, one wishes Austin “Jay Jay ” Okocha, a very happy 47th birthday and many more birthdays in good health of mind and body. One sincerely hopes the soccer authorities in Nigeria, would exploit his wealth of experience this time around as a soccer administrator to help tilt Nigeria’s soccer standards to higher heights.
UP AUSTIN “JAY-JAY” OKOCHA! UP NIGERIA!!!!!!!!!!!
By Cyril C. Nwokeji
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