Former Harambee Stars captain Dennis Oliech says turning down a mammoth multimillion offer to defect to Qatar was “probably a wise decision”.
At the height of his footballing career in 2004, the goal-machine, aged nineteen at the time, received a reported Ksh200 million offer to change citizenship. Other sources put the unverified figure at Ksh890 million, which, if you ask me, is ridiculous.
As part of the deal, Qatar was to fund a new stadium in Kenya, with reports suggesting that the then Sports minister Najib Balala had acquiesced to the deal.
However, Dennis the menace as he was fondly nickname turned down the offer and chose to retain his Kenyan citizenship.
“I believe I have made the right decision. I love my country and would not take anything to change my identity,” he told Daily Nation at the time.
Fast forward to 2021 and Oliech has conflicting feelings about his decision. Speaking in an interview with Mozzart bet, Oliech said he would have taken up the offer if it came from a European country.
“I would say I am 50-50 because right now if I’m offered that amount I will take it but it’s too late,” he said when asked whether he regrets declining the offer.
Oliech continued: “The way I know Arab countries it was probably a wise decision then. You can have the money but will not enjoy peace. There are people in Kenya working there and they are not having an easy time, if it was a European country, of course, I would have changed my nationality.”
Oliech also disclosed that his career took a nosedive when he left Europe to ply his trade in Dubai.
“My career took a hit when I left Ajaccio for Dubai, that is when I left the European limelight. I wish I remained in France – even if it meant playing in the Second or Third division.
“I would advise most of the players to go to Europe because it is the best footballing destination, you should only go to Asia when you are about to retire from the game,” he advised.
His advice to young players aspiring to be the next Dennis Oliech?
“My advice to them is don’t be like Oliech, be more than Oliechthat is why I am saying we need more professional football academies in Kenya to nurture these kids.
“Most of the academies now ask for high fees and that is why I am saying the Federation needs to set up these structures which will in turn, ideally feed the Under 14, Under 17 and Under 20 junior National teams. This will set us up for success,” he said.
Oliech also revealed that he is considering a move to South Africa.
“I got a call from [Former Kenya head coach] Adel Amrouche who asked me if I’m still playing and I said yes. He told me he can get a club for me in South Africa and it is something I have been thinking about. I intend to resume full training soon – I think I still can play for a season or two.”