Samindra Kunti reporting from the 2015 Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester, UK.
Former Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha talks to Football Qatar about his time at PSG and Qatar SC, Soccerex and why he thinks Qatar will host a fantastic World Cup.
Are you enjoying your time at Soccerex?
Yes, I am. I am having fun. It’s not really been tough out on the pitch, because it has been all about skills. It wasn’t that difficult. I have enjoyed it.
You played at PSG, where you mentored Ronaldinho…
It so happened that he came to Paris Saint-Germain when he was 17. That was his first team in Europe and I was at PSG. I left Nigeria when I was 17 as well, so I realized how difficult it was for him to acclimatize and adapt to a new environment. I decided that I should help him. He had a special talent and that’s how we became friends.
PSG has changed a lot since your time.
They have changed a lot since my time there. I think they are one of the leading clubs in Europe and they will do well in the Champions League this season – not just because they have great individual players, but they have managed to grow as a team, because they have been together for a while now. This year they will be a lot stronger and they may cause a serious upset in the Champions League.
Can they really challenge in the Champions League?
I think so, the last two seasons they were lacking a bit as a team, but I think they have grown stronger. There is no doubt that they will challenge this season. Di Maria has to settle down. When he is comfortable in his environment, he will do well. His a great player and a great talent, but unfortunately it didn’t work out for him at Manchester United. At PSG he will do well. He is a great addition to the team.
In 2006 you went a season to Qatar SC, what made you decide to move to Qatar?
Obviously, the offer was good. I thought that I could contribute in changing football in Qatar and the mentality. I think I did my bit, but the culture is different and most of the local players have different ideas. I enjoyed my time in Qatar.
The MLS is a hot destination. Didier Drogba recently moved there. Would you advise players to go and play in Qatar?
In terms of winding down, it is a fantastic place to go and play. If you want to give back to football, you have to go to places where you can influence people and young players. I would advise to go to Qatar when you have the offer.
Will Qatar host a good World Cup?
I have no doubt. Qatar, as a country, know how to host competitions. They like to impress. Qatar, without doubt, will host a fantastic World Cup.
You have been linked to the presidency of the Nigerian FA. Can you give us an update?
I think it is one of the things I would love to achieve, but I need more experience. I played football at the highest level, but I have got all it takes to go into full administration and that part of the game. I am learning the trade now – I am a state chairman. From there, I think I can only grow to qualify to maybe one day have the opportunity to become the president of the Nigerian FA.
Sunday Oliseh is now the coach of the Super Eagles. How can he take Nigeria forward?
He is well qualified to take us to where we are supposed to be. He has all the qualifications. We have to support him, encourage him and give him the chance to build his own team.