Winning the African Champions League title is the biggest milestone any African player can aim for. Nigerian midfielder Onyekachi Okonkwo has won it twice.
Okonkwo is proud of this accomplishment with his club Enyimba.
“I have always been determined to do well for my team. At training, I always work hard on my game to improve as a player. I did very well for Enyimba back home in Nigeria and winning the major trophies with the team was a great feeling,” he says.
The midfield maestro was instrumental in Enyimba’s path to Champions League glory which attracted attention from South African giants Orlando Pirates.
Okonkwo signed for the Buccaneers in the 2004 season and had a successful stint in the lucrative Premier Soccer League (PSL). His high work rate and style of play made him a crowd favorite in South Africa.
“When I came to Orlando Pirates, I was aware that I was joining a big team and a lot was expected from me.”
Although they had high expectations, the passionate fans spurred Okonkwo on.
“It was very encouraging for me while playing in front of those Pirates supporters who were always cheering the team. They were behind us wherever we played and that gave us extra motivation.”
After being a star in the famous black and white colors for two seasons, Tico, as he is affectionately known, went overseas to join FC Zurich in Switzerland. After two seasons in Europe, he left to play for Al Kharitiyath in Qatar and feels that playing overseas helped him grow as a player.
“Even though I played in different countries and experienced different situations, I was very focused. I dealt well with the different circumstances that I was going through and managed to perform well for the team.”
Pirates were aware that Okonkwo was still a valuable player and enticed him back to the club in 2012. It was a move that was easy for the player.
“Coming back to South Africa and rejoining Pirates was good for me because the standard of soccer in the PSL is good. The league is professionally run and there are fine soccer facilities.”
“It feels good when people recognize that I did well for the team whenever I got the opportunity to play for Pirates,” he says.
Okonkwo signed for Mpumalanga Black Aces last season, helping the team qualify for the MTN8, a tournament that features the top eight teams in the PSL. He is determined to reward the club’s supporters by winning a major trophy this season. Aces have signed other top players which leaves Okonkwo confident that they will have an even better season.
“I am a very ambitious person and my aim is to win one of the trophies with Aces this season,” he says.
With his successful track record, it would take a brave man to bet against him.