Germany international, Mario Gomez has said soccer legend Austin Jay-Jay Okocha is his idol, as he has had a huge influence on his career.
The 31-year-old VfL Wolfsburg striker gave an insight into how the former Super Eagles skipper positively affected him during his time.
He said he was not a fan of watching football on the television, until his father showed him a clip of how Okocha scored a sensational goal, when he played for German club side, Eintracht Frankfurt.
Okocha played his club football in Germany for over seven years for Borussia Neunkirchen and the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He later played in the English Premier League for Bolton Wanderers.
Gomez noted that after he watched the goal, his father told him that there is no one like Jay-Jay Okocha in world football, and from then he wanted to play like him.
The World Cup winner wrote on The Players’ Tribune: I didn’t like watching football on TV. It was always so boring to me. Why sit in front of the screen, when you could go outside and play the game for real?
“Papi, let’s go outside!” I’d say, tugging on his arm. “Let’s play!” One evening when I was about seven or eight, he had finally had enough. Instead of shooing me away, he sat me down right next to him.
“I want you to see this, Mario. Just watch.”
“Nooooo! It’s boring.”
“My father pointed at the television, “Look! There! Right now!” When I looked up, there was an Eintracht Frankfurt player on the screen.
“He dribbled the ball around the other team’s goalkeeper, then around a defender, and then around another defender – just toying with them – until he chipped it easily into the goal. “
Woahhhhhh,” I said.
“What did he just do?” “See?” my father said. “That’s Jay-Jay Okocha. And there’s no one else like him.”
“From that moment, I dreamed of playing like Jay-Jay. He was my idol. The way he moved the ball – he was like an artist. He did things with a ball I couldn’t even imagine.
“And after seeing that dribble and that goal, I watched the highlights with my father every Sunday. I even started watching matches with him as well,” he added.