Rockford's World Cup Connection - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford's World Cup Connection

ROCKFORD (WREX) -  Jean-Pierre Tokoto has lived in Rockford for more than 20 years. But 32 years ago, he was playing in the World Cup for his home country of Cameroon.

"When you hear your national anthem, it's something that will give you goose bumps," Tokoto said.Tokoto is

Cameroon team tied all three of its matches, ending up tying Italy with three points in the group. But Italy advanced based on a tiebreaker. 

 "You know deep inside that you could do better," Tokoto said. "You could play better if only the coach were able to accept input and work with us."

Now, Tokoto's passing on his knowledge to the next generation of soccer players in Rockford.

 "From 8-years-old to 16 right now, but we're going to expand it to all high school kids," Tokoto says.

Tokoto's grandson J.P. plays basketball at the University of North Carolina. Before he switched to hoops, the young J.P. was a soccer standout. 

 "In soccer he was fantastic," proud grandpa Jean-Pierre brags. "He was skillful and had speed. I think that's helping him in basketball right now."

Besides playing in the World Cup, Tokoto's favorite soccer memory is playing against his idol, Pele.

"To play against him was a dream," Tokoto said. "I did it. And the best, after the game, we beat them 3-2, he put his arms around my shoulder and told me, in Portuguese, I'm a really good player. I was 24, crying like a baby." 

It's that kind of emotion that fans around the world feel during the World Cup.

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