The story of these two footballers illustrates our point that even though two people may start at the same position, the decisions they make along the way, will cause them to arrive at very different destinations.
Celestine Babayaro is widely regarded as the best Nigerian full back ever to have lived alongside Taribo West. Babayaro set records as the youngest player to make an appearance and to receive a red card in the UEFA Champions League. He began his playing career at Nigerian side Plateau United, before moving to Belgian club Anderlecht in 1994, and eventually would make a name for himself, quickly gaining first-choice status although still a teenager. In 1996, Babayaro was part of the Nigeria Olympic gold medal winning team at the Atlanta 96 football event.
Babayaro was signed by Chelsea in April 1997. He moved for a transfer fee of £2.25 million, a club record paid for a teenager at the time. He was also instrumental in Chelsea’s memorable run in the 1999-2000 UEFA Champions League. His acrobatic celebrations with backflips were noted and loved by the fans of the club.
In January 2005, he left Chelsea to join Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee, where he established himself as first choice left back.
Cele as he was fondly called, was amongst the highest paid African players in the world as he earned a tidy pile of ‘cash’ stated to be between £25,000 and $30,000 per week at Chelsea.
With millions of dollars in earnings, you would expect that Celestine Babayaro will be very rich by now. He bought a home for his family in England, near his own house also in England. He splashed millions on super cars and is known for hard partying. Some people who claimed to know him in Kaduna, said that he usually cruises around town with girls, and even bought an expensive porshe car for one of the girls.
Every footballer eventually slows down. Babayaro’s own came suddenly with a failed move to LA Galaxy, and a bout of Malaria fever. Unfortunately for Babayaro, he did not make hay, while his sun was shining. Soon, people he owed money started tracking him, and went to the extent of putting ads on Newspaper to locate him and get him to pay his debts. Finally in 2011, Celestine Babayaro declared himself bankrupt at a court in Croydon, meaning, that he is officially broke.
Jay Jay Okocha, a quick and skillful playmaker, is widely regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation and one of the greatest African players of all time. Okocha was known for his confidence, technique, creativity, and dribbling skills, as well as his use of feints, in particular the stepover.
Okocha began playing football on the streets just like many other football stars, usually with a makeshift ball. In 1990, he joined Enugu Rangers. Later that year, he went on holiday to West Germany, the country that had just won the 1990 FIFA World Cup, so he could watch German league football. His friend Binebi Numa was playing in the Third Division for Borussia Neunkirchen, and one morning Okocha accompanied Numa to training, where he asked to join in. The Neunkirchen coach was impressed with Okocha’s skills and invited him back the next day before offering him a contract. A year later, he joined FC Saarbrücken, From there to Eintracht Frankfurt. Okocha joined Turkish club Fenerbahçe for approximately £1 million following Eintracht Frankfurt’s relegation to the 2. Bundesliga. In his two seasons with the team, he amassed 30 goals in 62 appearances, many of them coming from direct free kicks, which became something of a trademark for him at the club.
His next stop was with PSG of France and from there to Bolton Wanderes in the summer of 2002. His debut season, despite being hampered by injuries, made him a favourite with the Bolton fans, with the team printing shirts with the inscription “Jay-Jay – so good they named him twice”. He steered the team away from relegation with seven goals, including the team Goal of the Season in the vital league win against West Ham United.
In 2006 he moved to Qatar, and after just one season, moved again to Hull City in 2007. At the end of the season, he was released by the club, which ultimately sent him into retirement.
Thus came to an end the wonderful career of the great Jay Jay Okocha. Between Celestine Babayaro and Jay Jay Okocha, no one can say for sure who earned the most money through football, but the difference in the wealth status of both men, was not because of how much they earned while being active in football, but how much they invested.
Today, Jay Jay Okocha is regarded as the richest footballer in Nigeria. Over the years, he was investing carefully in real estate and other entrepreneurial activities. He runs Okocha Group West Africa Limited, a business conglomerate that employs more than 250 staffs. Some of his businesses includes:
A relaxation Spot
Bureau de change
Supply of security equipment and staff
Football players’ management
Rentals and Events Management
Jay Jay Okocha is estimated to be worth over $150 Million.
I hope my point is beginning to sink in. In the last piece I wrote about Shina Peters vs Jim Ovia, many people misunderstood the point I was trying to make.
What you are earning, will not determine how wealthy you will become. It is what you invest, that will eventually make you rich. Celestine Babayaro may never recover financially again, because his earnings are no more coming, and he has more liabilities than investments – Cars that depreciate; family houses that cannot be rented out in London, but rather needs constant property tax payment to maintain; expensive lifestyle; etc. All these are liabilities that take away your earnings. Many celebrities and “rich” professionals, like doctors, bankers etc, actually have a negative cash flow. In other words, they may be earning say 10,000 annually, but are spending 12,000 to buy and maintain liabilities. So once the earnings stops, they quickly become broke.
You may not be earning much, but never try to imitate others, or live a lifestyle that you cannot afford. It is foolish, because even those you are trying to impress don’t care and even if they care, they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They are here today and gone tomorrow. Look for ways of putting your money to work, invest your money, don’t spend it. Even if Mr Okocha becomes crippled today (God forbid!), he will continue to be wealthy, because his business investments will continue to bring in cash flow, as he is no longer depending on his earnings like in the case of Celestine.
Entrepreneurship is one of the best ways to invest your money. And it is not as difficult or risky as many people think. Ignorance is the reason why many people do not invest via entrepreneurship, and not lack of time or resources as many people claim. This is what Millionaires Academy (www.register.millionaire.ng) is teaching youths all over Nigeria today. You need to become financially literate, so you can secure your future tomorrow. Majority of our youths, even graduates are financial illiterates.
Let me give you an example of a very simple investment/liability scenario. You have N300,000 today, you can use it to buy an iphone7. This is a liability. In 5 years’ time, it will be selling for less than N20,000 in Computer village. Assume you live in certain busy areas, you can use that money and buy some canopies, seats etc, and rent it out for events. (Actually this was the first business Okocha did; Okocha Rentals.) Few boys are all you need to be moving it from place to place. In one year, you will have your capital back, and the properties will continue to give you money. This is just an illustration, but still feasible in some places, with some modifications to the business model.
Wealth creation is a subject that can learned, and anybody can build wealth over a period of time. For some it may be shorter and longer for others, but wealth creation follows certain principle that once set in motion, must yield the desired result. So I will urge you to join Millionaires Academy today (www.register.millionaire.ng) and start building your financial future now.
One of the critical problems we have in this country is a very low human capacity development. We have the natural resources and the population, but we are severely under developed. We are seriously lacking in in personal development, and this is why foreigners come here and make huge money. A Chinese man once said that the streets in Nigeria are lined with gold. We import almost everything, even toothpicks. This is a tale for another day. But if the Chinese can come here and make it, If South Africans can come here and siphon great wealth via ShopRite, DSTV, MTN, real estate etc. why can’t we? We must begin now to develop our personal capacity whether the government supports you or not, but if you fail to develop yourself, foreigners will come here, and enslave you and your children in your own fatherland. Ask those working for Chinese and South Africans and you will understand what I mean. Join us today at Millionaires Academy, and develop your entrepreneurial skills.