The people of Montpellier, a city in southern France with a population of roughly two hundred and sixty thousand could hardly hide their joy as their club Montpellier HSC became the champions of France for the 2011-12 season; the first time in their history.
Instrumental to this success were the contributions of our very own John Utaka whose 2 goals in their last game of the season against Auxerre away on 20 May 2012 sent fans at the stadium into ecstasy.
Before then, Utaka - who has recently thrown his support behind Gernot Rohr to excel as Super Eagles gaffer l - had a forgettable 4 years in the English Premer League where he scored a pitiful 1 goal per 9 games and was sharply criticised by the English press for his rumoured weekly wages of £80,000 per week (which they pointed out as part of the reasons for the South Coast club's financial troubles).
However, returning to France when he did (in 2011) brought instant success. His goals and mesmeric all round contributions helped Montpellier win the league (ahead of PSG) and earned a brief recall to the Super Eagles.
In fact, Utaka had been regular in the Super Eagles when he playing in France between 2002 and 2007.
Arguably, one of his highest points for Nigeria was when he scored the winning goal that knocked perennial foes Cameroun out of the African Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage in the 2004 edition.
That goal was particularly sweet considering the harm The Indomitable Lions of Cameroun have inflicted on the Super Eagles over the years in that tournament.
So, When Utaka received the ball from Kanu in the midfield and left the entire Cameroun defence for dead before coolly stroking home to finish off the Indomitable Lions, he became very close to being a national hero. In fact, if he was a (soccer) god, some fans would probably have made him their lord and personal saviour. The match ended: Nigeria 2:1 Cameroun.
According to reports in the local media, Utaka, 38 years old, recently said of Rohr: “He might do better than what he has done but I think, he will do a good job."
That is a view shared by a large section of Super Eagles supporters who are basking in the euphoria of the feel-good factor that the German tactician has brought back to the national team with vibrant players and the Super Eagles' continued upward trajectory in the FIFA rankings since 2016.