Posted by By Emman Huesu on
Austin Jay Jay Okocha is not the tempestuous type. He does not throw tantrums. Neither does he, as far as I know; behave like the rich little brats who swing toys out of the prams. As level Ėheaded professionals go, there are not many around to touch the Super Eagles captain.
Austin Jay Jay Okocha is not the tempestuous type. He does not throw tantrums. Neither does he, as far as I know; behave like the rich little brats who swing toys out of the prams. As level Ėheaded professionals go, there are not many around to touch the Super Eagles captain. That Okocha has chosen silence in place of belligerence regarding his off and on transfer to Qatar an ample testimony of the manís maturity.
Yet, Okocha must be hurting badly. The 32-year-old midfielder must be unhappy with Bolton for blocking what should be a lifetime opportunity to make decent money ahead of an inevitable retirement.
Al Rayyan, a rich club from Qatar, managed by former Paris Saint Germainís manager, Luis Fernandez, are offering the Nigerian super star a three-year package worth about £5 million (N 1. 2 billion). For a 32-year-old player whose colourful career is slowly but steadily slipping into twilight, that undoubtedly is an interesting piece of cake. It provides not only an escape from the tedious, tension- ridden health-endangering Premiership but a financial guarantee to a smooth pension.
Now, this is not suggesting that Okocha is too old for competitive football. In fact, he still got a couple of years in him. But the point is, opportunities offered by Al Rayyan donít grow on trees. Hundreds of football legends in Okochaís position had snapped up chances like that with alacrity. Pele was at Cosmos, in the United States for a last financially rewarding hurrah. Zico went to Japan, Marcel Desailly, Gabriel Batistuta, George Weah etc; all sought greener pastures in relatively less-taxing environments before calling it quits.
Okocha should not have been denied that opportunity. For the club to stick in the sand on the pretext that the player was important to them smacks of selfishness. For Bolton to demand £2 million (N500 million) from the playerís package when they paid nothing for him two to three years ago is utterly disgraceful.
Okocha has served this club well. He has played his part in their success over the past three seasons. In terms of his commitment, application and effort, he obviously deserves better. Club Chairman, Phil Gartside, did acknowledge this much when he said: ď Jay Jay is a vital asset to us. He is the captain and one of our most important players. There is no way we would want him to leave. Ē Fair enough, but why not match words with action and give the player the same wages Al Rayyan propose?
The Qatari club promises to pay the Nigerian star £55.000 (N 1.3 million) a week wage tax-free. Gartside, for all his sweet talks, canít pay more than £35.000, yet he wouldnít let him leave. How fair is that?
It is at times like this that it makes sense for players to stand up to greedy, utterly self- serving club presidents? Michel Aulas, Lyonís president for instance, is one of those. He brought Michael Essien from Bastia two years ago for £4,5 million. Yet, he knocked Chelseaís offer of £20 million back and employed all tricks in the books to block the playerís move until Chelsea upped the stakes. Had Essien not gone on strike and enforced a stalemate, he probably will still be rotting in Lyon.
Okocha has to think of himself. At 32, he has not got much left to give the game. He is not exactly a pauper, but compared to some of his peers with relatively less talent, he certainly has not made enough money to rival the like of David Beckham and Zineddine Zidane of this world.
So, the decision as to whether or not to move to Qatar should be his and his only. Not the chairman and manager of a club who live on a shoe- string budget and scan Europe in search of bargains and freebies.
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