Legendary defender Roberto Carlos has praised former Nigeria international Austin Okocha for having the skills of a typical Brazilian player. Carlos, a 2002 World Cup winner, made this statement in an interview posted on African Facts Zone’s Twitter handle. When asked to choose between George Weah, Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, and Okocha, Carlos picked Okocha as his favorite.
According to Carlos, “Okocha for me… Okocha looked like a Brazilian player playing.” He further added, “Okocha was spectacular, seeing him play around the world, for his country, for the clubs he played, in my opinion Okocha had many skills of a Brazilian player. He played with elegance when he dribbled, and he was very difficult to defend. For me, he was an icon of African football.”
Carlos and Okocha had the opportunity to face each other twice in the group stage and the semi-finals of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games. While Brazil emerged victorious with a 1-0 win in the group game, the U-23 Eagles, famously known as the ‘Dream Team,’ won a dramatic 4-3 victory in the semi-final clash.
Okocha’s illustrious career includes being a part of the Super Eagles squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994. He also represented Nigeria in three FIFA World Cups in 1994, 1998, and 2002. At the club level, Okocha played for renowned teams such as German club Eintract Frankfurt, Fenerbahce in Turkey, Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain, and Bolton Wanderers.
The football world recognized Okocha’s talent and impact on the game. In March 2004, he was included in the late Pele’s prestigious list of the 100 greatest living footballers.
Roberto Carlos’ admiration for Okocha’s skills highlights the immense talent and influence the Nigerian legend possessed. His ability to play with flair, elegance, and creativity made him stand out, not just in African football but also in the eyes of football legends like Roberto Carlos.