By Johnny Edward:
Former Super Eagles coach Daniel Amokachi is delighted to have proved the doubters wrong after joining Everton rather than Juventus in 1994 despite reports of a supposed racism issue at Goodison Park .
Merseyside football had been blighted by incidents of racism in the 1990s prior to his move to England but the then 21-year-old was undeterred by the ugly incidents.
Amokachi who was the first African player to play at Goodison Park revealed that he was close to joining the Old Lady of Italian football before the Toffees showed keen interest to take him.
In an interview with 1990s football podcast Alive and Kicking, Amokachi, who is now coach of Finnish second division side JS Hercules, explained how he was cautioned about joining Everton prior to his club record £3 million move.
“The move to Goodison Park just came out of the blue. My agent and Club Brugge were deep in talks over a move to Juventus," Amokachi said.
“I was sitting back, continuing to do my training during pre-season. Then I think the deal came through and I got a phone call saying 'Everton are willing to take you in.'
I said 'I'd love to be in the Premier League, it's an experience for me.'
“But they told me 'ah but it's Everton and they're a racist club. You will be the first black player to play for Everton.'
“I said [to my advisers] 'I don't think if they were racist they would spend so much on a black man from Africa.
“I ended up putting pen to paper at Goodison and from the moment I came out of the tunnel to be introduced I felt the love of my life.
“That was an experience and I enjoyed my two seasons there. I can't complain about any second that I was there.”
The former Besiktas of Turkey star who is the first African player to win the English FA Cup also picked his brace against Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-finals of the 1995 FA Cup final as his most memorable moment at the club.
Amokachi: “I think it was a turning point of my career there. When I came to Everton I thought I was fast and strong but once I was in the Premier League I knew I had a lot of work to do.
“I had the support of all my team-mates, especially Dave Watson the captain, he was really pushing me to be as good as I could be.
“I kept doing my thing in training and reserve games. I was on fire during that period. I just had to wait for my opportunity to come.
“I created the opportunity for myself. Paul Rideout was injured and Joe Royle kept insisting that the doctor should fix him up and we should wait for five more minutes.
“The doctor said 'he's done, he's done'. We were a player short and I just got up, I was warming up already, and went up to the fourth official.
“It just happened. He should have asked the question 'where is the paper?' and all that stuff but he didn't.
“He just raised the number, I put my feet over the line and I saw Joe Royle running towards us saying 'what are you doing?'
“We were done with the substitution, I was over the line and if I was to come off we'd have to play with one man short.
“We were 2-1 up but Spurs were putting us under pressure at the time. It turned out that in the next 10 minutes I scored two goals and Everton were in the final.
“For me to be at Wembley playing in the FA Cup final that I watched as a young child it can't get better than that. Not just playing but beating the mighty Manchester United back then.”
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