Former Super Eagles goal-getter John Chukwudi Utaka has been on the news recently. In an amazing interview session Ojbsports had with the incredibly talented and pacy striker, he opened up about how he transitioned into coaching.
The Ligue 1 winner with Montpelier who started his football career with Enugu Rangers of Nigeria will be passing out tactical instructions from the technical area to Montpellier’s Under-19. It is the first step towards getting his coaching badge.
Utaka started his French football sojourn with RC Lens in 2002 where he scored 24 goals in 102 appearances. In 2005 he moved over to Rennes and after two seasons with the ‘Les Rouge et Noir’ he joined fellow Nigerian striker, Kanu Nwankwo in Portsmouth in July 2007 in a 4-year deal. Portsmouth, then playing in the English Premier League, had their best season in 2007/2008. John Utaka was instrumental to their success that season. It was he who provided the assist to Kanu Nwankwo’s goal that won Portsmouth the FA cup in 2008 against Cardiff City.
Utaka the Attacker as he is fondly called returned to Ligue 1 in 2011 for a second stint. In the 2012/13 season, he scored the brace that gave Montpellier their first-ever historic title as Ligue 1 champions. It was a historic moment for one of Ligue 1 oldest clubs, founded in 1919.
When asked about his proudest moment in the French Ligue 1, he said with an air of excitement:
“Winning the French Ligue title was my proudest moment because to me it’s like I was compensated for my previous stint with the Ligue 1.”
On his new adventure, Utaka was asked if coaching has always been something he nurtured before retiring from active football.
“It’s a kind of transition you know, I was once a football player and then I have the opportunity to share my knowledge with younger players, it’s not like I have it in my mind but I have an academy, John Utaka Football academy in Minna, Niger State, Nigeria, where I speak with the boys.
“I find it interesting passing messages to them, that gives me joy because most of them do look up to us by trying to do what we’ve done and even surpass our achievements. It’s something I am grateful for and super excited to be given the opportunity”.
John Utaka who last played for fouth tier French side CS Sedan, before hanging the boots last year, is expected to lead the Montpellier U-19’s who are three times Coupe Gambardella Champions in 1996, 2009, and 2017, to more glory and produce more stars for the Montpellier First team.