Chima Okerie has come a long way

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Footballer Chime Okerie is back and this time he will try his luck for Mumbai-based outfit Bengal Mumbai Football Club.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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New Delhi:

Chime Okerie, the man who dominated Indian football for nearly a decade before trying his luck in Europe is back. This time it's for Mumbai-based outfit Bengal Mumbai Football Club. He's come a long way from the time when he first came to India nearly 20 years ago to pursue a career in architecture, not realizing what destiny had in store for him. "I arrived here as a 17-year-old and had no intention of playing football, because I was warned not to play football by my dad. I gave it up in Nigeria and came here and whatever happened to me after that was destiny," said Chima. Chima was among an elite group of players who played for all the big clubs of Kolkata, including East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. He was such a prize asset that Mohun Bagan even broke their club rule of not hiring foreigners just to get him. "Mohun Bagan at that time were not taking foreigners, so I wasn't thinking of playing for them. But I was quite surprised, pleasantly so, that they broke their rule to accommodate me," he revealed. Chima, who never had a great working relationship with football authorities in India and had seen Indian football at its worst times, feels that the sport in the country is on the up and that there is still a lot of scope for development. "You have got loads of talent in view. So I think there is a need to nurture players and in the next 5, 6 or 10 years, if someone like Colacco is there, you will come to realize that Indian football is making progress. I believe that things get worse and then they start getting better," he remarked. The footballer, who had quite a few years playing professionally in Europe, has a few words of encouragement for India's sole foreign export - Baichung Bhutia "If he gets an offer from far east, it's better than reserve football. But I don't think he plays reserve football. It's only this time that he was coming back from injury, otherwise Baichung was amongst the starting eleven at the beginning of this season. I think that Baichung is better than division two," Chima remarked. Now in the prime of his career, Chima has found a new passion - singing! He has just cut his first album in Bengali in a tribute to the city of Kolkata, where he spent many a years giving spectators value for their money.

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