Austin Okocha

Argentina ex-international Hernán Jorge Crespo has declared the Super Eagles football playing maestro Austin Okocha as the greatest Nigeria had ever produced.

He said: “I think the greatest player so far in Nigeria was Austin Okocha,” at an interactive session with news men when he arrived in Lagos, his first visit to Nigeria on the invitation of Heineken Group.

Crespo along with Nigeria’s ex-internationals, Taribo West, Augustine Eguavon, Mutiu Adepoju and Samson Siasia, was invited by Heineken for an interactive session with newsmen in Lagos.

Crespo attributed the success of his over 18 years football career to respect for others which, he said, was one of the fundamental values of life.

“As a young player, I love the game of football but one fundamental thing I learnt along the way was respect for the game, my team mates and fans of football.

“As I grew older in football, I also learnt that it was very important to respect my opponents as well; indeed, it has been a worthwhile experience for me.

“I am in Nigeria because I want to have the opportunity to meet people, to support my passion and most importantly support Heineken and their vision for the UEFA Champions League,’’ He said.

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Crespo said that he would never forget playing against Nigeria’s ex-internationals, especially against hard tackling Taribo West and Celestine Babayaro, who were his team mates at Inter Milan and Chelsea, respectively.

“In my career I met a lot of players I had respect for and I would never forget players like West, Babayaro, Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Amokachie, Sunday Oliseh and George Finidi.

With over 300 goals during his career, Crespo was regarded as one of the deadliest striker ever in the history of European and World football.

He played for Argentinian club side River Plate and Italian sides such as Parma, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Genoa and Lazio.

He won the 2005 English Premiership League title with Chelsea FC of England, among other laurels.

While in Nigeria, Crespo is set to share the drama of Heineken-sponsored UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Liverpool with Lagos fans Saturdaynight.