Nigerian football legend Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha says he is proud he had a scandal-free football career.
Okocha, who dazzled the footballing world with his surreal skills and uncanny ball sense, stated this during the Bundesliga Legends Tour, Guardian writes.
The former kid sensation moved to Germany as a 17-year-old in 1990 and penned a deal with Third Division side, Borussia Neunkirchen, before making an eye-catching move to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga two years later.
Okocha, an Olympic gold medallist, as well as a member of Tunisia ’94 AFCON winner team, retired from active football at the age of 34 after appearing for the Super Eagles 75 times, scoring 14 goals.
During the chat, the diminutive no 10 said: “I can proudly say that I had no scandal throughout my career. And there was no serious injury worries because of what I was taught how to live off the pitch. It was very important.”
Speaking further, Okocha, who is the immediate past chairman of Delta FA said: “Playing in the German Bundesliga gave me the platform to excel in my football career. The Bundesliga is the league that made me, and it changed my life. And that was even when our people (Nigerians) didn’t know much about it.
“I got to Germany at 17 and I was given the opportunity to excel. It is difficult to find that happening in any other place. In England, for instance, you have to play 75 per cent of your country’s games before you are considered in the Premiership. But in the German Bundesliga, they give you everything to express yourself. I always use myself as an example. In the beginning, I never wanted to pass the ball, but the Bundesliga made me strike the right balance and used my talent to the advantage of the team.
“If I had the opportunity, I will ask every Nigerian kid to start his career in Germany. The structure they have in the Bundesliga is far from what is obtainable in other leagues.”
The Bundesliga Legends Tour, organized by Star Times, ended at the weekend with a five-a-side competition for children in Lekki.