According to his @JoreOkore Twitter account, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” but his spell in England with Aston Villa didn’t quite match his profile tagline and the Ivorian born defender sensationally returned to his homeland in August to reigning Danish champions FC Copenhagen where he will look to re-build his career and avoid the failure he fears.
At aged 20 Jores Okore was a wanted man, Chelsea, Valencia and Ajax to name but a few. With 7 international caps to his name and a season playing in the Champions League it was West Midland stalwarts Aston Villa managed at the time by Paul Lambert who won his signature from FC Nordsjaelland in the summer of 2013. The fee was around £3 million, the potential was big and the promise of Premier League football irresistible. Aston Villa at that time were a stable mid table league side with hotshot striker Christian Benteke being their prized possession and a solid youth structure featuring heavily in the first team. Scottish manager Paul Lambert was said on Okore’s arrival “He has played in big games but he’s a very humble lad and he will be a really good addition to our team. There’s a great opportunity for him here.”
3 seasons, 47 games and 1 cap later Jores Okore had packed his bags back to Denmark but what occurred in it that period to the potential ‘heir to Agger’ that forced this career move? A 14 month injury lay-off, a humiliating relegation and a public spat with his own manager seemed to seal his fate.
Okore’s dream move to the Premier League turned into a nightmare very early on a ruptured anterior cruciate knee injury in a 2-1 September home defeat to Newcastle United in only his 3rd game for the club ended Okore’s season there and then. Unfortunately another Danish player who signed for Villa that season Nicklas Helenius shared a similar lack off game time due to injury and lack of form, the club went on to finish 15th in the league.
Jores Okore got over his injury nightmare by November of the 2014/15 season, a total of 14 months out. With Ciaran Clark and Ron Vlaar first choice centre halves Okore still managed 26 games in the season scoring 1 goal in a 2-1 home defeat to Chelsea. Despite a 17th place league finish the impact of new manager Tim Sherwood provided Aston Villa an FA Cup final against Arsenal, Okore played the whole 90 minutes as the club were demolished 4-0 by Arsenal
The season Jores Okore and all Aston Villa fans will want to forget, the 20th placed finish will go down as one of the worst in Premier League history as the club could only record 3 wins. With 10 games under his belt and relegation already confirmed, Okore made headlines after an April fixture against Bournemouth, Caretaker boss Eric Black claimed Okore refused to be involved when he discovered he would warm the bench, what followed was a public spat between the two as Okore took to his twitter account to share his side of the disagreement, it made little difference as he was left to rot in the under 21’s for the remaining games in the dour season.
So as the new 2016/17 started it was inevitable Jores Okore would be on his way with new manager Roberto Di Matteo bringing in Tommy Elphick and James Chester. With FC Copenhagen’s qualification the lure of Champions League football was enough to bring the big Danish defender back across the North Sea. At 24, Okore has plenty of time left to make a name but the experience of long term injury and relegation will not be easy to forget.
Posted on 20th September 2016