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My lucky break
Around the Academy:

Jay-Jay Okocha
Jay-Jay's career took off at Eintracht Frankfurt


When I was 17 I was given the opportunity to go to Germany, but I didn't intend to go there and become a professional footballer.

My brother had a friend who played for a German Fourth Division team called Borussia Neunkirchen. I decided to go and stay with him.

One day I asked if I could go to training with him and he said yes. When we got there and I saw the standard of the players, I knew I could perform at that level.

Jay-Jay in action for Paris St Germain

The manager let me train with them, and after the second day's training he offered me a two-week trial. Then the club registered me, and my football career began.

It was all quite amazing - at 17 you live with your parents! It never occurred to me that I was old enough be on my own and start my own career.

I found it difficult to deal with at first. I wasn't used to being on my own and I got quite homesick.

But I realised I had a big opportunity in front of me and knew that I didn't want to let it go. I knew I had to be patient and grab the chance I'd been given.

Within a year of moving to Germany I was playing for Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga (Germany's equivalent of the Premiership).

It was an amazing experience. I was playing alongside players I used to watch and admire.

But I didn't find it intimidating. I think one of my strongest assets was that I was never afraid to play against people who were older than me.

No matter what level I was playing at, I was never scared. When I got my opportunity I never looked back - I wasn't afraid of anybody.



Learning the game
My lucky break

Did you know?
Jay-Jay's real name is Austin
His nickname comes from his older brother, James
When James played football he was known as Jay-Jay
When Austin started playing, everyone called him 'Jay-Jay's brother'
Eventually they dropped the 'brother' and Austin also became known as Jay-Jay

Open Quote
When I got my opportunity I never looked back - I wasn't afraid of anybody
Close Quote
Jay-Jay Okocha




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