Utaka’s Egyptian misadventure

October 11, 2016 Articles Leave a comment

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With a 2008 English FA Cup winners medal with Portsmouth and a surprising 2011 French Ligue One title with unfancied Montpellier, John Utaka’s club career is far from chequered.

But the former Nigeria striker, who featured for Turkish Liga side Sivasspor last season, is now compelled to play in Egypt’s second division, with Future Stars.

Utaka’s unexpected drop happened after what was supposed to be a triumphant return to Ismaily – the Egyptian first division club where he built a cult following 15 years ago – strangely broke down.

“The former board of Ismaily sent me a pre-contract, signed by the previous president of the club, while I was in France,” Utaka told FootballisAfrica in Cairo.

“I came back to the club, despite the offers I had elsewhere, because I received appeals from the Ismaily fans, who remember what I did before, to come back to the club.

“But after coming to Egypt and signing the contract, all contact with the club was cut off. I did not hear from them

“No one has ever told me that they wanted to terminate the contract, up till this moment.  I had to spend my own money to look after myself,” Utaka said.

“I reported the matter, with my lawyer, to the Egyptian FA. But it was not resolved before the first division transfer deadline was closed.

“So, with only the second division transfer window open, I decided to join Future Stars, just to prove that I am still fit to play and prove that claims I am unfit to play top-level football, as was reported in some Egyptian newspapers, are lies.

“I have taken my dispute with Ismaily to FIFA and they have pay me what was agreed in my contract.”

Utaka plays for Future Stars, a Cairo club, until December, when the mid-season transfer window opens and a move back to Europe or Japan J-League – where his younger brother, Peter, plays for Sanfreece Hiroshima – is possible.

“Future Stars contacted my Egyptian lawyer and said they would love to have me in their team. I am happy with them and I am getting to play. They have honoured the financial agreement I signed with them. Football is football, no matter the division.”

“I did not want to be out of the game for three months, as that will affect my form and could create doubts in any club I want to move to, during the next transfer window,” he said.

Utaka has a piece of advice for foreign players seeking to ply their trade in Egypt.

“Be careful. Ensure that the club that you sign for operates on a professional platform and ensure that they provide you with guarantees.”

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