Uche Okechukwu

Nigerian footballer

Uchechukwu Alozie “Uche” Okechukwu (// (audio speaker iconlisten) //; born 27 September 1967), also known as Deniz Uygar, is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as a central defender.[1] A centre-back of remarkable physical strength, he renowned as a strong player in the air with his headers and was capable of his consistent clearance of the ball, he is widely considered as one of the best Nigerian defenders of his generation.

Uche Okechukwu
Personal information
Full name Uchechukwu Alozie Okechukwu
Date of birth (1967-09-27) 27 September 1967 (age 56)
Place of birth Lagos, Nigeria
Height 1.90 m (6 ft 3 in)
Position(s) Centre back
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987 Flash Flamingoes 25 (0)
1987–1990 Iwuanyanwu Nationale 79 (1)
1990–1993 Brøndby 61 (10)
1993–2002 Fenerbahçe 191 (19)
2002–2006 İstanbulspor 75 (8)
2006–2008 Ocean Boys 15 (2)
2008–2009 Bayelsa United 36 (0)
Total 482 (40)
National team
1990–1998 Nigeria 47 (3)
Olympic medal record
Representing  Nigeria
Men's Football
Gold medal – first place 1996 Atlanta Team Competition
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

"Uchechukwu" is an Igbo name meaning "God´s will".[2] He was also honoured as the foreign player who played in Turkey for the longest period of time (13 years), going on to obtain Turkish citizenship under the name Deniz Uygar.[3][4]

Club career


In 1987, Okechuwu began his career with the Flash Flamingoes. From 1987 to 1990 he played for Iwuanyanwu Nationale. His talent did not remain undiscovered for long: In that year, he was transferred to the Danish top team Brøndby IF together with his teammate Friday Eliaho. Right in his first season and in 1991 he helped his club to the league title. In the year 1992, he was voted the best player of the club by the fans. In 1992, his compatriot Friday left for Africa Sports from Ivory Coast. Unlike Okechukwu, he performed very poorly.

In 1993, he transferred to Fenerbahçe SK. Together with the Dane Jes Høgh, a former teammate at Brøndby, he formed a very strong central duo. Okechukwu was very popular in Turkey. His sympathetic display and the extent to which he spoke the Turkish language made him the most beloved foreign player ever in the Turkish league. Together with his compatriot Jay-Jay Okocha, they acquired Turkish nationality in a short time. Okechukwu was given the name Deniz Uygar and Okocha became Muhammed Yavuz. After more than nine years, Okechukwu said goodbye to Fenerbahçe in 2002 to the applause of more than 30,000 spectators. The player won two national titles (in '96 and 2001)

For the 2002–2003 season, Okechuwu moved to İstanbulspor, as he was only a supplementary player at Fenerbahce. He was active at Istanbulspor for four seasons. He was relegated to the second division with the club and narrowly missed promotion in the play-offs against Sakaryaspor in the 2005/2006 season.

International career


In 1990, Okechukwu was called up to the squad for the 1990 African Cup of Nations in Algeria. The football federation sent a reserve squad consisting mainly of young players there. Already in the first match, the Nigerians lost to the hosts, Algeria, 1:5. However, in the following games, the team from Okechukwu did not concede a single goal in defense until the final. There, in Algiers, the Nigerians lost to the hosts for the second time, this time 0:1, but won the silver medal, and the talent of Okechukwu, among others, was discovered. In the same year, Uche scored 3 goals – in a friendly against Ivory Coast, against Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations (semi-final won 2:0) and in a match against Togo.

In 1992, Okechukwu was a member of the Nigerian squad for the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations. This time, with the "Super Eagles" team, he reached the semi-finals, and in the match for 3rd place, Nigeria defeated Cameroon 2:1.

In 1994, he took part in another Africa Cup of Nations, this time the PNA in Tunisia. The Nigerians were second to none in this tournament and easily won the African championship, defeating Zambia 2:1 in the final. Uche was a mainstay of Nigeria's defence and played in all of their matches at the World Cup full-time. The "Super Eagles" had probably the best team in history, but they only reached the 1/8 finals, in which they were eliminated by Italy, losing 1:2 after extra time.

In 1996, Okechukwu competed in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. He was called up to the national team as one of the senior players and was a pillar of his team's defense. Nigeria reached the final, where they defeated Argentina 3-2, becoming the first African country to win a gold medal in football.

In 1998, Okechukwu captained the Nigerian national team that took part in the World Cup in France. There he played in 3 matches of his team – against Spain (3:2), Bulgaria (1:0) and in the match of the 1/8 finals against Denmark (1:4). In the first two, he received yellow cards, which eliminated him from the match against Paraguay. After this World Cup, he said goodbye to the Nigerian national team.

In total, Okechukwu played in 47 matches for Nigeria and scored 3 goals.



Iwuanyanwu Nationale