Mohun Bagan signs Odafe for record Rs 2 crore one-year deal
Kolkata: Mohun Bagan on Wednesday signed prolific Nigerian striker Odafe Onyeka Okolie for a record rupees two crore one-year contract, the highest ever deal in Indian football history.
Odafe, who was already the highest paid footballer in the I-League with rupees one crore plus a year salary with Churchill Brothers, was unveiled by Mohun Bagan at the club tent on Wednesday.
Mohun Bagan did not disclose the exact sum offered to the Nigerian hitman but sources said he will get rupees 1.6 crore as salary and another Rs 30,000-40,000 will be spent by the club on other perks, including on rent for his flat.
Odafe was the top scorer in the first three I-League editions but ended second this season with 25 goals behind Dempo striker Ranti Martins who netted 30.
Odafe was instrumental in Churchill Brothers` I-League title win in the second edition (2008-09) and he became the most sought after striker in Indian club football.
He joined Churchill Brothers in 2005 and with them won Durand Cup twice (2007 and 2009) and IFA Shield in 2009, besides the I-League crown.
He was retained by Churchill Brothers for a reported rupees one crore annual salary for the 2009-10 season. Last year, he reportedly rejected a Rs one crore plus offer from Mohun Bagan to remain with Churchill on an increased pay said to be around Rs 1.25 crore.
For Mohun Bagan, who were eyeing Odafe for the last five years, the Nigerian was the biggest catch for the club which finished sixth at the I-League table.
Odafe`s return to Kolkata after first playing here for Mohammedan Sporting in 2001-02 season, was facilitated by fellow Nigerian Chima Okorie, who was also present during the unveiling.
Addressing a press conference, Mohun Bagan General Secretary Anjan Mitra termed Odafe`s signing as a great day in the club history.
"We have been trying to rope him in for the past five years. Even we were eyeing him in the start of this season but it could only materialize now through Okorie. It`s a greatday for us," Mitra said.
Asked about his return to Kolkata to play in 2010-11 season, Odafe thanked Goa minister Churchill Alemao whose family owns Churchill Brothers.
"I started playing in Kolkata but nobody knew me at that time. Then I moved to Goa where Churchill (Alemao) treated me well. Churchill Brothers gave me all I wanted and for that I could not leave them," he said.
Promising club supporters to win many trophies for Mohun Bagan in the upcoming season, Odafe said, "God was with me in Churchill Brothers and I`m sure God will be with me in Mohun Bagan as well.
"I am sure we`ll win many trophies for Mohun Bagan this year. It will be a very good year for Mohun Bagan. I know Mohun Bagan too will take care of me."
Odafe said he would love to play alongside Brazilian stalwart Jose Ramirez Barreto who had an injury-ridden and forgettable season for the Green and Maroon brigade.
"Barreto is a very experienced footballer. I`ll be really happy to play with him. I don`t know the team yet but Mohun Bagan have promised me to bring in good players. After all, I need support on the field to score goals. I can`t play alone.
"I am sure, all supporters here will love me because I will make them happy," he said.
Asked about the alleged air hostess molestation case last year involving Odafe, Mohun Bagan officials said he would become a reformed person.
"Mohun Bagan is an institution with a very good environment and whoever joins us becomes a reformed player," a club official said.