Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha
There are only so many words that are fit to describe this Nigerian, who upset the norm and created a name for himself in a foreign land.
Even at home, ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha was the thrill of excitement that changed the game for Nigeria.
The perfect No.10 was a terror to defenders in his day, and a bane to any team he played against. Today we see the likes of Juventus forward, Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona ace, Lionel Messi, make football look so entertaining and enjoyable, but before these ones, the world had the indelible Jay-Jay Okocha.
A man who could turn the worst of odds to his favor in a matter of seconds. It is totally heartbreaking that the politics associated with football and African players in Jay-Jay’s day denied him a well deserved FIFA world best player award. However, the world cannot deny that this Nigerian is one of the best things that ever happened to football in history.
Let’s take a look at five times Okocha thrilled the world with his riveting skill.
Arsenal 2 : 2 Bolton (2004)
In this game Okocha was every where with the ball. He was an attacking midfielder, a striker, and also a defender.
The Nigerian is an exquisite playmaker, and he proved it in this game as he helped Bolton end Arsenal’s 100% season run.
Bolton Vs Manchester
No midfield has ever been strong enough to keep Okocha in check. Not even an imposing midfield with Paul Scholes and Roy Keane.
Okocha had it all. His dribbles were precise, his ball handling was top notch, his speed was remarkable, and his shots? Powerful!
It is still a wonder how he could do all he did in this game.
Nigeria Vs Cameroon (African Cup of Nations Final 2000)
After I saw this goal, the first question that hit my mind was, “How in the world did he do that?!”
Okocha is probably the most underrated player of all time. His moves seemed like they were ripped out of a magic book. Totally phenomenal.
Nigeria had suffered so many defeats at the hands of the Cameroonians for so long, and with the AFCON title at stake, Nigeria needed a win at all cost.
Cameroon was leading 2:1, until Okocha’s super goal leveled the scores at the stroke of halftime.
Although Cameroon won the title on penalties (4-3), Okocha’s goal was the highlight of the game.
Bolton Vs Aston Villa
One compelling feature Okocha possessed was his ability to gamble with the ball, cocksure of his skill.
He would often hold the ball and attract players to himself to create chances for his teammates before he sent a pass across.
Players these days would rather tiki-tika than try a daring maneuver like the Nigerian was known for.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Karlsruher SC
This game is arguably the highlight of Okocha’s career, and the perfect choice to end our list.
Okocha utterly disgraced a young Oliver Khan and his group of defenders, proving just how dangerous he can be regardless of the odds against him.
See more from Okocha’s amazing career:
Featured image source: Brila