Wolfsburg ’s Mario Gomez has revealed that he wanted to play like Austin Okocha after watching him dazzle in the colours of Eintracht Frankfurt.
The former Nigeria international played in Germany for over seven years turning out for Borussia Neunkirchen and the Eagles.
And the former Bayern Munich star, who is always bored by games shown on the screen, said his fascination for football matches grew when he watched the midfield maestro discomfit an opposing team’s defence.
“I didn’t like watching football on TV. It was always so boring to me,” Gomez wrote on The Players’ Tribune.
“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.”