German striker Mario Gómez has revealed he idolised former Super Eagles midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha growing up when he was playing with Frankfurt in Germany.
The 33-year-old Gomez who had a legendary career with the German national team and across several top teams in Europe has revealed his admiration for Okocha which started at a young age.
In an interview with the Players Tribune, Gomez talked about his upbringing and how he started his
He stated that when he began he was passionate to play the game even when he did not understand the rules and relegation.
Narrating his story, Mario stated that his parents assumed a coaching role directing him where to score.
He said, “I was four years old and I didn’t really know what I was doing. All I knew was that I had the ball at my feet and I wanted to score a goal. So I started dribbling up the field and all my teammates began to yell my name.
“Mario! Mario! Mario!” I took the ball further up the field. Marioooooooooo!
“What’s wrong with them? Why do they want me to pass? None of the defenders wanted to take me on. I had a clear path to the goal.
“Mario!” Even the parents were yelling my name now. You’re going the wrong way! Mario, nooooo!
“I didn’t understand that there was a right way to go. I just saw a goal, and I wanted to kick the ball into it.”
He went on to discuss that his father was Spanish and he used to play shoot around with him to help develop his game.
Mario stated that his father then encouraged him to watch professional footballers on television.
He stated that around the age of seven or eight they watched a game involving Frankfurt and he was in awe of the performance of Okocha who was in Germany at the time.
Okocha moved to Frankfurt from Borussia Neunkirchen in 1992 and spent four years at the Commerzbank-Arena before he left in 1996.
He explained he fell in love with the way Okocha manipulated opposing defenders before he found the back of the net.
Narrating his experience Mario said, “See, my dad was from Spain, so he loved football as well. He couldn’t have cared less about the plants, and sometimes he’d even come out and shoot around with me. Except if it was 6 p.m. on a Sunday. Then, there was only one place he’d be: in front of the television watching the weekly football highlights program.
“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.”
Gomez went on to state that as a German player he modeled his game alongside Brazilian players Ronaldinho and Rivaldo.
Over the course of his career as a professional career Gomez has won several trophies especially during his time at Bayern Munich but missed out on the team that won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.