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The rise and fall of former Nigeria & PSG star, who spent seven years in prison after retirement | MadNaija
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The rise and fall of former Nigeria & PSG star, who spent seven years in prison after retirement

Godwin Okpara is one of the many players who made their names for Nigeria at the age grade competition, before moving to the senior national team ( Super Eagles).

The former defender was born on 20 September 1972 in Imo state, Nigeria and he began his football career in his hometown before getting the opportunity to feature at the 1989 FIFA U-17 World Cup with the golden Eaglets.

Okpara was outstanding at the Championship, and the performance secured him a transfer to Belgian club Beerschot.

He enjoyed success at the club and won the prestigious Belgian Ebony Shoe for the best African player in the league, before moving to France where he joined RC Strasbourg.

He continued to enjoy success while at Strasbourg as he won the Coupe de la Ligue in 1997, playing in the final.

After three seasons with Strasbourg where he played over 120 matches , Paris Saint-Germain came with bid and sign him, but the move became the beginning of difficult time for Opara.

The 47 year old spent two at the Parc de Princess, but managed to featured in just 19 league matches as he was overlooked by the coach.

After failing to break into the team, he decided to return to Belgium and Standard Liège was the club that gave the opportunity.

He was at Standard Liège between 2001 to 2004, he played 64 league matches in those period and scored just once.

Obviously Opara failed to recaptured the form that made him one of the best fight back at the time and was forced to retire after the 2003-04 season.

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His trouble seems not to go away and in August 2005, Okpara was arrested by French police on charges of assaulting his 13-year-old adopted daughter.

He was found guilty and imprisoned in June 2007 for 10 years. His wife, Linda Okpara, was sentenced to 15 years in jail for torture of the same girl.

The (girl) Linda Okpara also told the court she was not allowed to go to school and was forced to carry out menial housework. Nights were spent sleeping on the basement floor on a damp mattress, she said.

Prosecutors said the couple colluded with an aunt of Linda Okpara to keep the daughter in inhumane living conditions.

The aunt was sentenced to 18 months in prison for failing to prevent the crimes being carried out.

Although Godwin Opara later denied the charges against him and his wife on numerous occasions and said he would pay any price to clear his name.

“I will pay any price possible to clear my name. I would love to see her and ask her why she has done this. To beg her to tell the world that I did nothing to her,” he said.

“I swear on the lives of my children that I never had sex with her (the nanny). I rarely had interaction with her or the other women or girls that my wife used to have in the house often. I was a footballer so my life was going to training, coming back home, playing with my children.” He said in an interview he granted back in 2014.

He was set free from prison in January 2013 and was promptly deported to Nigeria, but it was a sad moment as he lost his first son to cancer while in prison.

Since his release and return to Nigeria, Okpara has kept not just a low profile, but returned to the news few years back when he was involved in property tussle with his wife.

Opara and wife went their separate ways after been released from jail and he dragged before the magistrate court in Lagos after his wife accused him of denying her, her share of their properties.

On the International scene, Opara was part of the Nigeria squads that participated in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, 2000 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2000 Summer Olympics.

He played just 19 matches for the Super Eagles.

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