Austin Okocha was arguably Nigeria’s most exciting player, a member of the Golden Generation, but as a the centerpiece of the Super Eagles he never really reached Olympus with the teams.
So was Okocha as unlucky as Lionel Messi has been with Argentina?
1994 was a breakthrough year for Nigeria football, it produced some of the Country’s greatest moments and also propelled players of the Super Eagles to limelight.
A second AFCON title and a debut appearance at the World Cup were the highlights of that era, but also the emergence of Okocha, who was growing into the central figure of the team.
In spite of that growing image on the continent, Okocha will never lead any Super Eagles side to an AFCON title.
A heart wrenching home defeat to Cameroon in the final back in 2000 was followed by successive third place spots at the next three editions of the competition between 2002 and 2006.
That fate, like a dark cloud now hovers over Argentina star Lionel Messi.
One of the world’s greatest player, Messi has reached four major finals, including the FIFA World Cup in 2014 with La Albiceleste, but ended up winning none.
For years Messi’s international career has led many to believe he lacks what it takes to lead, but there have also been suggestions his teammates don’t do enough.
As was the case of Okocha, the eras he captained the Eagles underachieved in the same vain as Messi has endured with Argentina – despite several top players in their respective teams at different times.
Whether for the lack of quality around them or the sheer stroke of ill-luck, these two marquee footballers have endured difficult times.
Failing to lift their national teams and carry them across the line, for the most part, that is how History will perceive it.