Former Super Eagles skipper Jay-Jay Okocha has shed light on why he did not play for top clubs or win the CAF Player of the Year award during his career, Soccernet.ng reports.
Widely regarded as one of Africa’s greatest football players, Okocha graced the Bundesliga, Turkish Süper Lig, French Ligue 1, English Premier League, EFL Championship, and Qatar Stars League before hanging his boots.
Okocha expressed his desire to have won the African Footballer of the Year award but believed his club choices may have hindered his chances.
The former Bolton Wanderers playmaker revealed that playing for top clubs was challenging for African players due to the relatively low wages offered. He acknowledged that winning the prestigious individual accolade would have been a cherished achievement, but his club options at the time did not align with the financial rewards he desired.
Okocha emphasized the importance of securing higher wages, opting to join clubs willing to offer him more lucrative contracts.
The football maestro explained that he had to decline offers from big clubs because of the wage disparity. In his view, these clubs often saw signing African players as a favour and, consequently, did not offer substantial financial packages. However, Okocha highlighted the positive shift in recent years, as African players, including Nigerians, now command larger contracts abroad.
What was said?
“I would have loved to win the African Footballer of the Year during my days,” Okocha said in an interview on Arise TV, monitored by Soccernet.ng.
“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 won the BBC African Footballer of the Year twice.
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