Former Super Eagles winger, John Chukwudi Utaka has set his sights on becoming the first African coach to win the UEFA Champions League.
Utaka’s journey to coaching has been a remarkable one, after retiring from active football at the end of the 2017/2018 season.
The ex-Portsmouth ace started his academy and was later hired as an assistant coach in the Montpellier U19s in 2020. In 2022, Utaka obtained his UEFA A license and is now working towards achieving his UEFA Pro badge.
Utaka admits that he has his sights set on coaching a team in Europe, and he is determined to make history by becoming the first African coach to win the UEFA Champions League.
“If the opportunity comes to coach a team in Europe, I will embrace it,” Utaka told DW.
“My dream is to win the trophies that I didn’t win as a player. I want to win them as a coach. We’ve never had an African coach win the Champions League. That is a goal for me.”
John Utaka started his professional career with Enugu Rangers in Nigeria before moving to Arab Contractors in Egypt, where he played for one season before joining Ismaily SC, where he made a name for himself as a lethal goalscorer, scoring 30 goals in 42 appearances between 1999-2001.
He also won the Egypt Cup in the 1999-2000 season with Ismaily.
After his successful stint with Ismaily, Utaka moved to Al-Sadd of Qatar for a season before joining RC Lens in France in 2002.
At RC Lens, he scored 24 goals in 102 appearances, including being a part of the team that finished runners-up in the Coupe de la Ligue in 2003.
In 2005, he moved to Rennes where he scored 22 goals in 63 appearances over two seasons.
In 2007, John Utaka signed with Portsmouth, where he won the FA Cup in the 2007-2008 season. He scored a total of 10 goals in 90 appearances during his time at Portsmouth.
In 2011, he joined Montpellier, where he scored 12 goals in 68 appearances and helped the team win their first and only Ligue 1 title in the 2011-2012 season.
After Montpellier, Utaka went on to play for Sivasspor in Turkey, Ismaily in Egypt, Nogoom El Mostakbal in Egypt, Aswan, and finally Sedan in France, where he retired five years ago.