Tuesday Jun 30, 2020. 12:00
Former Nigerian international attacker John Utaka says he has no hard feelings over missing the 2014 World Cup and adds that he used the snub as motivation to further his career.
The 38-year-old, who racked up a respectable 49 caps for the Super Eagles in his international career, was overlooked by coach Stephen Keshi for the World Cup in Brazil six years ago, despite having enjoyed a fine season for Turkish club Sivvaspor leading into the global event.
Utaka notably scored nine goals and provided three assists in 22 Super Lig appearances in 2013-14, leading to calls for him to be included in Keshi’s 23-man squad.
“I was disappointed but not upset. That was just it, I didn’t question anything, I did well for Nigeria and it was an honour to put on the National jersey. I just moved on and forgot about it,” the 38-year-old told Ojbsport.
“I did not really have a low point during my playing career. Maybe, I can say when I was not selected for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it was somehow a low point for me.
“I saw it as a challenge because you know a football game comes with a lot of pressure. So whenever I come across a challenge I just brush it off because it can set you back if you dwell on it.
“I just turn to the bright side, take the positive part and keep going.”
Utaka, who currently works as a youth coach at French club Montpellier, was part of Nigeria’s squads at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, as well as the 2004, 2006 and 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.