Super Eagles of Nigeria ex player, Daniel Amokachi, has revealed how affected he was after the demise of the the most populous black nation’s President, General Sanni Abacha and also about the injury that triggered his decline.
During his playing days, Amokachi was dubbed the Bull for his immense force and speed, and he was adored by fans as well as feared by opponents.
However, the big forward sustained a knee injury soon before the 1998 World Cup in France, from which he never fully recovered as a player. It was a difficult moment for Amokachi, who had lost a loved one in General Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s former Head of State, around the same time.
“I have a good relationship with the Abacha family. I am like a son because of the military background that we have,” the 49-year-old former Everton striker said in an interview with ATHLST.
“About three days before the first game we lost the General [Abacha], two days later I got injured. In training, I got a tackle and my knee knocked. And that was the beginning of everything for me.
“I just walked quietly to the locker room, I was in the toilet crying like a baby til they finished warm up and they came in.
“They were expecting that everything would be okay but after one season, I wasn’t feeling too well. I went under the knife again.
” I went to Germany – and what they did wasn’t supposed to be what they should have done. [But] that’s fate, that’s how it’s been written and then it happened.”
From 1994 to 1996, Amokachi spent two seasons at Everton, winning the FA Cup in 1995.
Even though Amokachi returned to action following surgery and recuperation, he acknowledged he wasn’t the same. The strength and speed that had been on display at the African Nations Cup [which Nigeria won], the World Cup in 1994, and the Olympic Games in 1996 had started to wane.
He’d have sporadic stints in Germany, France, and the United Arab Emirates without much success until retiring at the age of 28.
“You see players that get injured, they have surgery and rehab and they start playing again, and that was what was in my head,” the Olympic Gold medalist continued.
“I started rehab, started training, playing, but it wasn’t the Bull. I felt I was, but people that were watching me knew it wasn’t me – because my style of play is about power, speed and a bit of skill. If that speed is not there, if that strength is not there then it’s a mouse not the Bull, and I felt it.
“A lot of my friends, a lot of people said a lot of people would have gone mad. Me doing rehab and thinking I’ll never play football again and all that stuff. I think it’s just the special grace.
“We go through phases. I went through bankruptcy – I don’t feel ashamed to say it. We go through experiences. Do I have millions in my account today? No, because I don’t need it. Because you wake up one day and you’re just history.”