Jay Jay Okocha: A Look Into One of Africa’s Greatest Football Players

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Jay Jay Okocha is one of the best African footballers ever. He represented Nigeria and played for several European teams. His dribbling skills were unmatched and he showed that at every moment he was on the pitch. Okocha won many individual and team accolades. In this article, we look back on his career.

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Jay Jay Okocha’s Childhood

Many people know him by the name Jay Jay Okocha but his birth names are Augustine Azuka Okocha. The name Jay Jay came from his elder brother James who played football but it stuck with him. 

Like many African football stars, he began playing on the streets and where he stood out. Together with his friends, Jay Jay used a makeshift ball and said that playing with a real ball was a bonus. 

After a while, he joined local club Enugu Rangers where he became a star. His shining moment saw him score a goal against former Nigerian goalkeeper William Okpara. In the same year, Okocha traveled to Germany for holidays and a friend invited him to train. 

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Start of Okocha’s Career in Europe

Jay Jay Okocha’s highlights. Video Credit: mr bundesteam

When he joined his friend for training at his club Borussia Neunkirchen, the coach was impressed by him and invited him back. He played for the club for a year and then joined 1. FC Saarbrücken and after a few months in the second division of football in Germany, Okocha joined Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992. 

At Eintracht Frankfurt, Okocha’s exploits went on scoring goals and showing his dribbling skills. The following year, he won the goal of the season and goal of the year after he dribbled in the penalty box, going past two players and later kicking the ball past the goalkeeper.  

Despite his addition, Frankfurt were relegated at the end of the season. By then, Jay Jay Okocha had fallen out with his coach and left for Fenerbahçe. He played for the team for two years, making 62 appearances, and scoring 30 goals. 

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Paris Saint Germain

In 1998, Jay Jay Okocha made the biggest move of his career, joining French club PSG from Fenerbahçe. He became the most expensive African football player after signing for £14 million. He made 84 appearances, scoring 12 goals and also interacted with Ronaldinho who was a prodigy at the time.

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Bolton Wanderers

Highlights of Jay Jay Okocha. Video Credit: César Fútbol Total

The Nigerian went to England after his contract expired in 2002 to join Bolton Wanderers. This is where the phrase, “Jay-Jay is so good they named him twice” came from. His performances endeared him to the fans, including his goal of the season that helped Wanderers escape relegation. In 2008, it was voted as the club’s best-ever goal.

His stature of the club grew and that was acknowledged by landing the captain’s armband. Okocha led Bolton to the 2004 Football League Cup Final, the club’s first trophy in nine years. 

However, things took a turn and he was stripped of his captaincy with rumors of a potential move to Qatar swirling around. These were confirmed after he turned down a one-year extension to join Qatar SC. 

He was in Qatar for a year and then moved to Hull City and was later released. He retired from football after that. 

International Football

Okocha played 73 times for Nigeria. He was part of the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup and also the Africa Cup of Nations squads. He scored 14 goals for his country. 

Jay Jay Okocha was voted one of the best 125 living footballers by the late Pele. He won numerous awards including the Africa Footballer of the Year seven times. His name continues to be in the game, with his nephew Alex Iwobi playing for the Nigeria team and Premier League side Fulham. 

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