Paul Okon can lay claim to know more than most about the emotion and drama that a Cup competition brings.
One only has to hear the hint of excitement in his voice about what it means to him to be involved in the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup.
As preparations for the Westfield FFA Cup’s Round of 32 draw were being put into place, Okon was asked if he would consider being involved. He did not have to think twice about his response.
Having experienced the excitement and magic of Cup ties firsthand during a decorated playing career, the former Socceroos captain and current Young Socceroos head coach feels privileged to be able to contribute to the interest and potential surrounding what is a landmark occasion in Australian football.
Okon won a Belgian Cup while at Club Brugge and also played in the FA Cup during his time in England. It may have been some years ago but Okon’s Cup memories are still as vivid as ever when he recalls the uniqueness of playing in a knockout Cup tournament.
“It’s a completely different feeling altogether because it’s just 90 or 120 minutes of football and anything can happen,” Okon said.
“It’s not about where you are on the ladder, it’s about how you perform on the day.”
His cup success with Club Brugge is obviously one of his highlights of competing in Cup competitions as a player, and it’s in the knowledge that there is no tomorrow for the loser that reiterate why there is something special about playing in games such a what the Westfield FFA Cup is sure to provide.
“We had a disappointing season in the league and it was a consolation to win the Cup. If you have a good Cup run it can change around the fortunes of your season,” Okon said of the year he helped Club Brugge to the Belgian Cup.
“You have that mindset that you’ve got nothing to lose and you just go for it, and that’s why you see upsets of little clubs beating giants.
“Playing in a Cup, you look forward to the next round and finding out whether you’re playing at home…there’s a buzz, an excitement and that uncertainty that makes it that bit special.”
Okon was alongside fellow retired Socceroo Mile Sterjovski as the two football personalities assigned the task of determining who will face who in the opening 16 matches of the competition.
Both men were fitting choices having plied their trade in the old NSL and Australia’s present top tier competition the Hyundai A-League during their careers as well as having their experience in Cup games. Okon said it was special to be part of a landmark day.
“I’m thrilled to be part of history of what will hopefully become an iconic part of football in this country,” Okon said.
“The FFA Cup bridges those NSL and local clubs that have a lot of history to the Hyundai A-League clubs of today, so to be part of that is fantastic.”