Legendary Super Eagles playmaker Austin Okocha has reiterated his desire to witness the elevation of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) to a prominent position within the continent’s football landscape, Soccernet.ng reports.
Okocha recently stirred controversy by openly admitting his preference for watching the English Premier League over the NPFL, a statement that faced substantial criticism.
However, the former Paris Saint-Germain maestro remains undeterred, asserting his commitment to honesty regarding the NPFL’s current status and the need for improvement.
In an interview with Brila FM, Okocha said,
“At this stage in my life, I think it’ll be unfair to lie to our people; for me to be covering up, if we’re talking about getting better, if we’re talking about improving, if we’re talking about meeting our expectations.
“I think it’s high time we start telling each other the truth.”
Okocha’s candid assessment reflects his belief that the NPFL falls short of its potential, causing him genuine disappointment.
“I said that I’d prefer to watch the Premier League on television than watch our NPFL because we’re not where we are supposed to be because it hurts to see that the efforts we all put in, that nothing has been built on it,” he added.
Despite these reservations, Okocha commends the recent efforts to raise the NPFL’s standards, particularly the various off-season tournaments that have drawn fans back to the stadiums to witness the country’s top teams and players in action.
“Yes, now it seems like we’ve realized that, and we’ve started creating exciting tournaments, and clubs are now taking the initiative to make sure that they’re doing the right thing,” Okocha noted.
“And this is what we’re craving for, and this is why I made that statement so that we will wake up and realize that we need to start attracting people to our local league.”
However, the former Super Eagles captain emphasises that more needs to be done, particularly in officiating, player welfare, and security, if the NPFL is to progress to the next level.
Okocha called for increased commitment and sustained investment to develop the league as desired.
“We need to make our stadiums conducive for people to go and watch matches and not be harassed,” Okocha asserted. “We need to make sure that the right results are what we’re experiencing and not the home team-must-win syndrome. We want to see a good league, an attractive one.”
Okocha played briefly at Enugu Rangers before he went to Europe to start a career that saw him play for clubs in Germany, Turkey, France, and England. He retired as one of the most gifted players ever out of Africa.