It was not the sort of welcome Okolie Odafa is used to. Shoulders drooping, the Churchill Brothers skipper tried to sneak inside the hotel taking cover behind goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya but was stopped near the elevator.
Always known to be the prankster of the team, Odafa was a different self, not uttering a single word as photographers jostled to get a snap of the captain of the reigning I-League champions. Whose fault was it? Is this going to affect his performance against Mohun Bagan on Thursday? Odafa remained silent, fidgeting with his room key as he waited for the elevator on Wednesday.
Once in the elevator, Odafa said with a sarcastic smile: “You will find it only in India. Had it been my country, I’d have known how to deal with it.”
Looking agitated, Odafa went on: “Not many people are aware but I have two kids (two boys, Odafa Okolie Junior and Mirako Odafa Okolie). I have a wife (Angel) who is more beautiful than that girl. All I can say is I am innocent,” he said before slamming the elevator door.
“They hurt me. But my God will fight for me and punish them,” he said. “My wife is embarrassed that they have spoilt my name and she is feeling very bad. But she is understanding and trusts me.”
About 20 minutes later, Odafa and Felix Chimaokwu, again appeared, this time decked up for lunch. Taking a cue from where he had left, Odafa asked the airline authorities to provide clinching evidence.
“Planes have cameras, don't they? So they must have recorded the incident. Let them come up with the video of the incident to prove me guilty,” he said.
“I didn't know what the laws were so I decided to keep quiet. Kalu and Arindam argued for me and were detained as well. I'm facing this just because I'm a footballer. This probably wouldn't happen to a cricketer.”