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Friday, 30 March, 2001, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
Amokachi just wants a club
Daniel Amokachi has won fame, wealth and international recognition since leaving Nigeria to seek his fortune in 1990, but all he is looking for right now is a club to play for.
In the past two years, since suffering serious injury, the former World Cup striker has been scouring everywhere to pick up a contract with a team.
After failing to get signed on by clubs in Germany, Saudi Arabia and England, the striker 'cooled off' before emerging in France to begin training with Division Two side Creteil, from the Paris suburbs.
"It's good to start training again, smell the green grass, run around with fellow football players," said Amokachi after one of Creteil's training sessions.
"Maybe I can play here because I like it here - no noise, very few media, nice spectators and a couple of dogs," he said laughingly.
Long-term knee trouble
Creteil's coach Laurent Trossey said: "Well, it's kind of nice to have such a famous player here.
"He may be trying to get his fitness level back but if it works out, maybe we can push to give him a contract."
Training with a French division two side, however, shows the depths Amokachi has sunk to because of his long-term knee trouble and subsequent poor fitness level.
In January, English Division Three side Darlington, battling against relegation, wanted to sign him on but Amokachi turned down the offer.
He had earlier been on the other end when trying to pick up a deal with Division One side Tranmere, who were worried about his fitness level.
Before Tranmere, German Bundesliga side 1860 Munich actually signed on Amokachi but he failed a medical and had the contract cancelled.
Career in jeopardy
It was for the same failure to pass a medical that English Premiership club Manchester City, trained by his former Everton club boss Joe Royle, rejected him.
Amokachi's troubles began after the France '98 World Cup, where a knee injury put his career in jeopardy. At the time, he was with Turkish club Besiktas.
During a warm-up session a few minutes before the third group match against Paraguay, Amokachi's knee gave way and he was withdrawn from the starting line-up.
Some officials and pundits believe Amokachi had his injury before the World Cup and it was only aggravated during the tournament.
He later had surgery on the knee and was out for some time.
In early 1999, he was rather strangely made captain of the Nigerian national team, but was not fit enough to make the side.
Then, rather bizarrely, instead of getting back to proper shape when he returned to Turkey, he decided to concentrate on a modelling career, urged on by his Tunisian model wife Nadia.
As Nigeria began preparations for the 2000 Nations Cup tournament, Amokachi was invited to the squad but failed to make it, although he stayed to act as team 'talisman' and urge them on to the final.
It was a far cry from 1993 when Amokachi was among Europe's most highly-rated players.
Amokachi had progressed quickly from now-defunct Nigerian side Ranchers Bees, from northern Kaduna city, with whom he won the 1989 West African Football Union trophy in his only season with them, still aged only 16.
He was then signed by the youth side of Club Bruges in Belgium and was soon moved up to the seniors after his trademark rampaging, attacking style impressed the coaches.
Outstanding performances in the Belgian league and European Cup competitions suddenly catapulted Amokachi, fondly caled "The Bull" for his style of play, to fame and several awards, including the Ebony Boot for Best African Player in Belgium.
Against Greece, when Nigeria won 2-0, he scored a most memorable goal, tearing past four defenders and rocketing a shot into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
Languishing in reserves
There is a rumour that his goal against Greece made English Premiership side Everton sign him on afterwards.
After languishing in the reserves in the first season, things changed in the second, especially during the 1995 FA Cup, with Royle in charge.
Amokachi scored a brace of goals in their 4-1 semi-final defeat of Tottenham at Elland Road and his aggressive style of play and use of acres of available space made the fans nickname him "Amo-Taxi".
He won the FA Cup that year with Everton before things turned sour again, though not before possibly the highlight of his career.
His goal against Argentina in the final which levelled scores at 2-2 was superb - with a cobra-like reaction, he instinctively curled the ball extravagantly with the outside of his foot beyond the 'keeper.
Pledged his future
Nigeria went on to win 3-2, but the headline that dominated in the media was: "Amo fires the ammunition!"
Inevitably, he left Everton for Besiktas in Turkey and, in his second season with the club, he helped them win the Turkish Cup.
Despite a highly-publicised row with coach John Toshack, Amokachi pledged his future to the Turkish side.
The striker said: "I'm known everywhere in the world now so I'm not playing this game for exposure.
"I'm playing for money. I have a family to look after, two big boys (a set of twins) and a wife whose future I have to worry about."
That statement is a bell that will continue to ring in all ears as Amokachi maintains his search for a club.
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