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‘From chauffeurs to Olympic gold medalists' – Amokachi reveals Nigeria’s struggles at Atlanta 1996

22:27 GMT+3 21/06/2021
Nigeria at Atalanta '96 Olympics
The former Everton forward revealed how the African team overcame all odds to win the football tournament at the quadrennial multi-sport event

Daniel Amokachi has revealed how he was the chauffeur alongside Victor Ikpeba and Sunday Oliseh who drove the 'Dream Team' around at the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta.

The 48-year-old was one of the three over-aged players in Jo Bonfrere’s selection that won the gold medal in the men’s football tournament 25 years ago.

However, Amokachi remembered the challenges encountered by the team before their success story, which include missing buses due to lack of funds.

“At the Olympics, our problems started from Nigeria even before we left because there were a lot of obstacles that could have easily not have won the Olympics but it was destined and ordained for us,” he told the Chat.

“The first obstacle that we had, Bonfrere was not paid for about six months or more and the way God does his things, they went and gave him about 60 or 80 thousand dollars cash when we got to America to sort the logistics out.

“And we arrived in Amsterdam, he deducted 70k into his account and he took 10k with us. When we got to America, before we knew it, we went for training and the doors were shut.

"The bus we got was not there and we rented minivans, I was one of the chauffeurs alongside Ikpeba and Oliseh.

“We drove four or five in batches, and they put us in convoy. We woke up one morning and the vans were gone, we thought the vans were stolen because we had the keys with us.

“The receptionist at the hotel said the owners took their vans because our rent had expired.

"That was one of the obstacles we had and they were so angry that why did Bonfrere put us in such situation.

"And they brought late Shuaibu Amodu to replace him but he told was training, we knew what was happening and nobody came into the bus.”

Amokachi, who scored the second goal in Nigeria’s 3-2 final win over Argentina, said the team believed they would conquer all their opponents in Atlanta even before they left for the country.

The Dream Team’s only defeat in the competition came in the group stage against Brazil (1-0) but they got their revenge in the semi-final with a 4-3 victory, thanks to Nwankwo Kanu’s winning strike in extra-time.

“I'm a proud Nigerian and if you remember when we won gold, Nigeria was under sanction and the world wasn’t having anything to do with Nigeria because we were sanctioned for about seven to nine years,” he added.

“That football made the world reckon with Nigeria one more time. The beautiful thing about it is that, before we got to the Olympics, within ourselves we knew we were going to win the gold medal.

"And we said we had one hurdle, Brazil because we saw how they played and the qualities of players they had in the team.”