Leeds United star, Jordan Botaka spoke to us here at Cross The Line about his journey into the professional game and who he gives his thanks to.
Jordan, what was it like growing up and playing your youth football in Holland and Belgium?
“As a young boy I could only dream about becoming a professional footballer. As I was growing up I knew I was working on something big so in my mind there was no time for distraction. Growing up and playing in these countries has been good for me because I have learned a lot about both cultures at a very young age. For example, in Holland they paid a lot of attention on my foot work, technical skills and tactics but in Belgium it was more about the physical side of the game. So today I know how to have a combination of both.”
Who was your footballing hero when you were young? Why?
“It has to be, Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima.
He did stuff in my eyes no one else could do. Incredible pace, very quick feet, very skillful, amazing dribbles and scored goals very easy.”
Was it an easy decision to move to England once Leeds United came in for you?
“It was an easy decision to make because I’ve worked very hard to be in this place right now and people who are close to me know that it’s a blessing because I have come so far.”
Who is the best player that you have ever played against? Why?
“I would say, Paul Pogba because he does what he wants, he isn’t scared. He plays as if he owns the pitch and that’s what makes him a great footballer.”
Your best career goal to date? Talk us through it. . .
“Many people didn’t believe that one day the name Jordan Botaka could be sung by a big crowd because of his performance and beautiful goal on the pitch! I think my best goal was in my first game for the national team of DR Congo in front of my family and friends against Cameroon. There was a great dribble by Yannick Bolasie he then passes the ball to me, I took two touches and smashed the ball from about 30 yards in the left top corner.”
How proud are you to represent the DR Congo national team?
“I’m very proud. I am being a part of bringing joy, tears of happiness and love in my country which makes me more than a proud man.”
What’s the best thing about being a pro footballer in your eyes?
“Being able to be an inspiration for people who need it because every pro footballer has his or her own story.”
Tell us about how you became a Christian, what’s your story?
“I was born a Christian and I’ve been raised as a Christian. I’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour since I was a kid. I feel blessed because God gave me the opportunity to know Him at a very young age and realise that through Him all my dreams can become reality. You see, I don’t worship God just to become successful..
I worship God because He is the most high..
I worship God because although I don’t deserve it to live, I’m a live..
I worship God because He has sent His son to die on the cross for my sins..
I worship God because He loves me in a way no one else could love me..
I worship God because He brings joy and peace in my life..
I worship God because.. He is worthy to be praised!”
What has God taught you since becoming a footballer?
“That only by walking through His path I could become the best footballer I could ever be. God has blessed us all with something special but it’s up to us to find what it is. Once you’ve find it and put God into it, He will bless you and give you the strength to be the best you can be.
I’ve learned that our time doesn’t match with the time of God. You would think that everything is happening too late for you because maybe someone else who has your age is already rich and successful but God knows when the time is right for you and when that time arrives you will be surprised of how big that blessing is.”
How does God feature in your match-day routine?
“I only praise God and thank Him. I don’t ask Him for anything because I know He has everything under control. I love to sing gospel so that’s what I do all the time until the game starts. Sometimes it’s better just to thank God and praise Him instead of only asking for goals and assists.”
Who, in the sport do you connect with or talk to about your faith?
“I’m someone who likes to talk about how great God is and about how strong His word is. See I want to inspire people not only on the pitch but of the pitch as well. I talk to almost all the people I’m very close with about God.
A few known people in the sport like Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace), J.Maghoma (Birmingham), G.Zakuani (Peterborough), Paul Jose Mpoku (Chievo Verona), Jody Lukoki (Ludogorets) , Elvis Manu (Brighton) and a few more.”
Would advice would you give to young Christian footballers starting out in their career?
“Let God be your guide through your whole career. Don’t let temptations take control over you. Be patient. Let God work in his time.”