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Godwin Okpara: My Best XI

Godwin Okpara: My Best XI
April 20
12:11 2015

TheCable begins an exciting series where current and former footballers pick from a wide pool of players – active or passive, teammate or opponent, dead or alive – to form their Best XI!

For a defender, Okpara has picked an attack-minded team. So, there’s no room for a defender called Godwin Okpara!


Ike Shorounmu


He was a very good goalkeeper; for me, the best. I played with so many keepers and against a lot more in my different clubs and the national team at various levels, but Ike stood out. His positioning was second to none.


Dani Alves


He’s a defender who plays more like an attacker – going and coming down the flanks with ease. He’s still doing his thing for Barcelona.


Celestine Babayaro

Celestine was good. When he was in the game, I loved the way he played; his style and class. The way he overlapped and quickly recovered to defend was quite amazing. He was calm, cool-headed. He was good.



Franco Baresi

He was the boss for Milan and Italy. He was very good and exceptional. A great Italian!

Stephen Keshi


Keshi was a very strong player with an imposing presence on the pitch. I played with him and enjoyed the experience thoroughly.



Claude Makalele

An exceptional player especially during his spell with Real Madrid. He was always there to shield the defense from danger. He never had a bad game – his presence was always felt. He was a very consistent player.



He’s so talented; so skillful. And I’m glad I played with him. During training, he did a lot of crazy things and it is less than half of it people see on the pitch. The only problem was that he loved life! Assuming he was a cool-headed person, he would have been a great player in the category of Pele. The night life, partying and things like that curtailed his greatness. In his second season at Barcelona, after leaving us at PSG, he was voted the best in the world. He’s still a great player – no doubt.


Austin Okocha

Jay Jay was very good. We played together in PSG and even Ronaldinho respected him a lot. The Brazilian rated him highly. It was always a battle between them in training. One was always trying to show the other who can perform the most tricks. It was crazy but really good to see. He was a very good player – very, very good.


Lionel Messi

Can one leave out the Argentine? He’s the best! It’s rare to see him have a poor game because he’s always there for the team. He makes the difference all the time and his presence makes it an additional player for his team.

Cristiano Ronaldo

He’s a great player and he just has to be in my team. Simple!


I will risk him despite injury concerns. I can never forget his time with Atletico Madrid – a great striker. Cavani is good too, but I don’t think you can compare him with Falcao. He’s good in the air and on the ground. Great player!



If I am building a team, I will build more on the attack despite being a defender. To win a game, you must score. It’s not that you will have a weak defense – with Baresi, Keshi, and Makalele one can’t call mine weak – but the more you score the more likely your chances of winning. If you have a good attack, your defense will wake up to their duties.


Okpara was born on September 20, 1972 in Obaku, Imo state. He came into limelight as a member of the U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, to the 1989 World Cup in Canada. He graduated to the senior national where he played between 1991 and 2001 earning 18 caps.

He was part of the Super Eagles team that participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia.

After the U-17 World Championship, Okpara moved to Belgian club Beerschot. He won the Ebony Shoe as the best African player in Belgium while with Eendracht Aalst.

He moved to France in 1996 after signing for RC Strasbourg. Okpara was snapped up by Paris Saint-Germain in 1999, but he had a miserable second season with the club. He returned to Belgium in 2001 joining Standard Liege where he made 67 appearances over three years.


Godwin Okpara in the colours of PSG


Okpara retired from the game after the 2003-04 season.

1 Comment

  1. Justin
    Justin April 20, 21:56

    You obviously forgot to mention that Godwin Okpara went to jail for 7 years for raping and sodomising a minor in France

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