“I always wanted to be him” – Super Eagles star names AC Milan and Brazil great as football hero

One of the finest shot-stoppers of his generation, Dida is perhaps best remembered for his ten-year stint with AC Milan from 2000 to 2010

Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye has named former Brazilian shot-stopper Nélson de Jesus Silva ‘Dida’ as his role model.

Dida was, for the best part of a decade, one of the world’s best goalkeepers, winning multiple trophies and individual awards with AC Milan and Brazil.

The former Cruzeiro ace won two UEFA Champions League trophies with the Rossoneri as well as the Serie A, the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa Italiana, and the FIFA Club World Championship in 2007.

With Brazil, Dida won the Copa America in 1999, the 2002 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Korea and Japan, and two FIFA FIFA Confederations Cups in 1997 and 2005.

The AC Milan Hall of Famer was named the Best Brazilian Goalkeeper of the 21st Century by the IFFHS.

Okoye was only born in 1999, the year Dida won the Campeonato Brasileiro with Corinthians before sealing a move to Europe to join Milan.

But the Watford goalkeeper says he adored the Brazilian great and was pleased to be compared to him when he was younger.

“Easy…Dida! I don’t even need to think about that answer,” Okoye said when asked who was his goalkeeping hero, as per the Watford Observer.

“When I was young I always wanted to be him. I loved AC Milan back then and he was a legend, a real beast in goal. People did call me the ‘young version of Dida’, which I liked.”

Okoye made 61 appearances for Sparta Rotterdam, keeping 18 clean sheets before completing a switch to Watford.

He is expected to be the Hornets’ number one gloves man in the Championship next season as they chase instant promotion to the Premier League.

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