Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha (// ə-KOTCH-ə; born 14 August 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. He won 73 caps for the Nigeria national team between 1993 and 2006, scoring 14 goals, and was a member of three FIFA World Cup squads. He is regarded as one of the greatest football players from Africa.
|Full name||Augustine Azuka Okocha|
|Date of birth||14 August 1973|
|Place of birth||Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|2012||Durgapur Vox Champions||0||(0)|
|*Club domestic league appearances and goals|
He played across multiple leagues, starting his career at Enugu Rangers in the Nigerian Professional Football League before moving to Borussia Neunkirchen in the Oberliga Südwest, Germany's third division, in July 1990. He would play in the Bundesliga, Süper Lig, Ligue 1, Premier League, EFL Championship, and Qatar Stars League before his retirement in 2008.
Club career edit
Okocha was born in Enugu, Enugu State. The name "Jay-Jay" was passed down from his elder brother James, who started playing football first; his immediate elder brother, Emmanuel was also called Emma Jay-Jay, but the name stuck with him instead. He began playing football on the streets just like many other football stars, usually with a makeshift ball.
In an interview with BBC Sport he said, "As far as I can remember, we used to play with anything, with any round thing we could find, and whenever we managed to get hold of a ball, that was a bonus! I mean it was amazing!" In 1990, he joined Enugu Rangers. In his time at the club he produced many spectacular displays, including one where he rounded off and scored a goal against experienced Nigerian goalkeeper Willy Okpara in a match against BCC Lions. Later that year, he went on holiday to West Germany, the country that had just won the 1990 FIFA World Cup, so he could watch German league football. His friend Binebi Numa was playing in the Third Division for Borussia Neunkirchen, and one morning Okocha accompanied Numa to training, where he asked to join in. The Neunkirchen coach was impressed with Okocha's skills and invited him back the next day before offering him a contract. A year later, he joined 1. FC Saarbrücken, but stayed only a few months with the 2. Bundesliga side before a move to the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Eintracht Frankfurt edit
Okocha joined Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1991, where he linked up with many well-known players including Ghanaian international striker Tony Yeboah and later Thomas Doll. He continued to shine for the German side, one highlight being a goal he scored against Karlsruher SC, dribbling in the penalty box, even going past some players twice, and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. The goal was voted Goal of the Season by many football magazines, and also voted as 1993 Goal of the Year by viewers of Sportschau (an ARD German TV sports programme). In 1995, Okocha, Yeboah and Maurizio Gaudino were all involved in a feud with manager Jupp Heynckes, which led to their departure from the club.
Yeboah and Gaudino later left for England, while Okocha stayed until the end of the season when Frankfurt were relegated to the 2. Bundesliga, before signing for Süper Lig club Fenerbahçe. In the Bundesliga he scored 18 goals in 90 matches.
Okocha joined Turkish club Fenerbahçe for approximately £1 million following Eintracht Frankfurt's relegation to the 2. Bundesliga. In his two seasons with the team, he amassed 30 goals in 62 appearances, many of them coming from direct free kicks, which became something of a trademark for him at the club.
Paris Saint-Germain edit
In 1998, French side Paris Saint-Germain spent around £14 million to sign Okocha, making him the most expensive African player at the time. In his four-year stint with PSG, he played 84 matches and scored 12 goals. He also served as a mentor for young Brazilian footballer and future Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldinho during his time in Paris.
Bolton Wanderers edit
On 18 June Okocha joined Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer after leaving PSG in the summer of 2002 following the FIFA World Cup. His debut season, despite being hampered by injuries, made him a favourite with the Bolton fans, with the team printing shirts with the inscription "Jay-Jay – so good they named him twice". He steered the team away from relegation with seven goals, including one later voted the team's Goal of the Season in the vital league win against West Ham United. This was also chosen as Bolton's best ever Premier League goal by a fan vote in 2008. The next season saw Okocha receive more responsibility as he was given the captain's armband following Guðni Bergsson's retirement. As captain he led Bolton to the 2004 Football League Cup final, their first cup final in nine years, where they finished runners-up to Middlesbrough.
In 2006, Okocha was stripped of the captaincy—something he said he had seen coming, as there had been a change in attitude from some staff members. This was likely due to his proposed move to the Middle East, which had been the subject of growing speculation. At the end of the season, he refused a one-year extension in order to move to Qatar.
Following Bolton's relegation from the Premier League in 2012, Okocha stated that his spell at the club was now rendered a waste of time, because the club had not invested and improved on the foundations that were laid during his time there.
In 2017, Okocha was voted the best player to have ever played for Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok/Macron Stadium.
Hull City edit
After just one season in Qatar, Football League Championship side Hull City signed Okocha on a free transfer in 2007, after the player had been linked to Real Salt Lake and Sydney FC. It was a move he made saying that "God had told him to do so". He was however unable to contribute greatly to Hull's promotion campaign due to fitness and constant injury problems, playing only 18 games and scoring no goals. Hull still succeeded in winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time in their 104-year history. At the end of the season, after changing his mind on a proposed retirement due to Hull's promotion, he was released by the club, which ultimately sent him into retirement.
In 2012 he came out of retirement and signed with Bengal Premier League Soccer team Durgapur Vox Champions however the season was postponed and league itself folded in 2013 before him making any appearance for the team.
International career edit
Okocha made his official debut for Nigeria in their 2–1 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualifier away loss against Ivory Coast in May 1993. It was not until his second cap and home debut that he became a favourite with the Nigerian supporters. With Nigeria trailing 1–0 against Algeria, in a match they needed to win, he scored from a direct free kick to equalise, before helping the team to a 4–1 win, eventually securing qualification to their first World Cup. In 1994, he was a member of both the victorious 1994 African Cup of Nations squad and the World Cup squad who made it to the second round before losing a dramatic match against eventual runners-up Italy.
In 1996, Okocha became a key member of an arguably more successful Nigerian side, their Olympic gold winning side at the Atlanta Games, later nicknamed the "Dream Team" by the Nigerian press after the USA 1992 Olympics gold winning basketball team, as they overcame Brazil in the semi-finals, before coming back from 2–0 down to 3–2 up against Argentina in the final. At the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Okocha played for a disappointing Super Eagles side who failed to live up to expectations, again reaching the round of 16, albeit with less impressive performances save for their 3–2 opening win against Spain. This did not destroy interest in Okocha, who had entertained fans with his trademark skills and dribbles and went on to be named in the squad of the tournament.
Okocha again joined the Super Eagles in the 2000 African Cup of Nations, which Nigeria co-hosted with Ghana. He scored three goals in the tournament, two in the opening game against Tunisia, and was given a standing ovation by the nearly 60,000 in attendance when he left the field. The Super Eagles then went all the way to the final against Cameroon, with Okocha captaining his side and scoring the equaliser to tie the game 2–2 before losing in the penalty shootout at the end of extra time. He then captained the Super Eagles to the following 2002, 2004 and 2006, consecutively finishing all three tournaments in third place.
He made a return to the Super Eagles for a testimonial against an African select side in Warri. The game featured former players Daniel Amokachi, Alloysius Agu, John Fashanu, Benjani and Sulley Muntari. Nigeria won the match 2–1 with Okocha scoring the winning goal after appearing for the side in the second half. In March 2004, he was named one of the top 125 living footballers by Pelé.
Style of play edit
A quick, talented, agile, and skilful playmaker, Okocha usually played as an attacking midfielder, and is widely considered by pundits internationally as the best Nigerian footballer ever, and as one of the best African players of all time. Okocha was known for his confidence and clever trickery with the ball, technique, creativity, flair, close control, and smooth dribbling skills, as well as his turn of pace and his use of feints, in particular his version of the stepover (nicknamed the Okocha stepover) and his trademark turns. In 2012, Allan Jiang of Bleacher Report rated Okocha as one of the greatest dribblers of all time. Due to his range of passing, Okocha was capable of creating chances for teammates; he was also known for his ability to produce long throw-ins. While not being particularly prolific or consistent in his finishing or goalscoring, Okocha, possessed a powerful shot from long range and was an effective free-kick taker, which saw him score some spectacular and ingenious goals through his career. Due to his skill and nickname, he was described as being 'so good that they named him twice' (a line immortalised in a terrace chant while Okocha played for Bolton Wanderers). He is still remembered by Fenerbahçe fans as one of the legends of the club and the Turkish football league. In addition to being an inspiration for many other African footballers, such as Asamoah Gyan, Okocha also was a major influence on the playing style of several other footballers across the globe, including German playmaker Mesut Özil, as well Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho, whom Okocha played alongside during their time together at Paris Saint-Germain. Okocha became known as the "African Maradona" in the media, due to his skill and decisive performances for his country. Despite his ability, however, he was also known for being inconsistent, and for his lack of tactical discipline on the pitch.
Post-playing career edit
Okocha was elected as the Chair of the Delta State Football Association on 21 February 2015. In April 2015, he expressed his interest in becoming the president of the Nigeria Football Federation.
Okocha has served as a football pundit for African sports broadcaster, Supersports since 2019, providing analysis for major tournaments, including the African Cup of Nations and the European championships.
On 14 November 2021, Okocha played in a charity match as part of a team of Bolton Wanderers Legends against the current Bolton first team, with the match helping to raise money for the mother of Bolton player Gethin Jones, after she was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. The Bolton first team won 7–4, with Okocha scoring a penalty for the Legends team.
In an interview he told why he never played for big clubs like Real Madrid CF was because of wage issues and racism. He also told them that the money they offer him was like he was doing them a favor.
Personal life edit
Okocha is a member of the Anioma community, a sub-group of the Igbo people. His older brother Emmanuel is also a former footballer who played for the Nigerian national team. He has a nephew, Alex Iwobi, who plays for Fulham and Nigeria.
Career statistics edit
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Paris Saint-Germain||1998–99||French Division 1||25||4||0||0||2||0||2[e]||1||29||5|
|1999–2000||French Division 1||23||2||1||0||3||0||–||26||2|
|2000–01||French Division 1||16||2||1||0||1||0||6[d]||1||24||3|
|2001–02||French Division 1||20||4||2||0||2||1||9[f]||5||33||10|
|Bolton Wanderers||2002–03||Premier League||31||7||0||0||0||0||–||31||7|
- Scores and results list Nigeria's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Okocha goal.
|1||3 July 1993||Lagos, Nigeria||Algeria||1–1||4–1||1994 World Cup qualifier|
|2||11 June 1995||Boston, United States||United States||1–0||2–3||1995 US Cup|
|3||23 January 2000||Lagos, Nigeria||Tunisia||1–0||4–2||2000 African Cup of Nations|
|5||13 February 2000||Lagos, Nigeria||Cameroon||2–2||2–2||2000 African Cup of Nations|
|6||17 June 2000||Lagos, Nigeria||Sierra Leone||1–0||2–0||2002 World Cup qualifier|
|7||1 July 2001||Omdurman, Sudan||Sudan||3–0||4–0||2002 World Cup qualifier|
|8||26 March 2002||London, England||Paraguay||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|9||26 July 2003||Watford, England||Venezuela||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|10||31 January 2004||Monastir, Tunisia||South Africa||2–0||4–0||2004 African Cup of Nations|
|11||8 February 2004||Monastir, Tunisia||Cameroon||1–1||2–1||2004 African Cup of Nations|
|12||11 February 2004||Tunis, Tunisia||Tunisia||1–0||1–1||2004 African Cup of Nations|
|13||13 February 2004||Monastir, Tunisia||Mali||1–0||2–1||2004 African Cup of Nations|
|14||18 June 2005||Kano, Nigeria||Angola||1–0||1–1||2006 World Cup qualifier|
- Goal of the Year (Germany): 1993
- Nigerian Footballer of the Year: 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005; runner-up: 1996
- African Footballer of the Year runner-up: 1998; third place: 2003, 2004
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team (Reserve): 1998
- BBC African Footballer of the Year: 2003, 2004
- BBC Goal of the Month: April 2003
- Premier League Player of the Month: November 2003
- Africa Cup of Nations Top Scorer: 2004
- Africa Cup of Nations Best Player: 2004
- Bolton Wanderers Player of the Year: 2004–05
- IFFHS All-time Africa Men's Dream Team: 2021
See also edit
- "Why I got Turkish citizenship, adopted Muhammed as name – Jay Jay Okocha". Daily Post Nigeria. 24 April 2023. Retrieved 27 August 2023.
- Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2008). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2008–09. Mainstream Publishing. p. 319. ISBN 978-1-84596-324-8.
- "Jay-Jay Okocha: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
- "Okocha - How Football world celebrated Bolton and Nigeria legend at 47". goal.com. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
- "IFFHS". www.iffhs.com. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- Massarella, Louis (September 2004). Sleight, Hugh (ed.). "So good they named him twice". FourFourTwo. Teddington: Haymarket Magazines (121): 72–6. ISSN 1355-0276.
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- "jay jay okocha vs KSC". YouTube. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- "August 1993 - Okocha". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- "Jay Jay Okocha: "I dribble racist in Germany to pay them back"". KICK442. 8 May 2020. Archived from the original on 23 November 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- Arnhold, Matthias (13 January 2022). "Augustine Okocha - Matches and Goals in Bundesliga". RSSSF.com. Retrieved 21 January 2022.
- Olulana, Deji (4 January 2017). "Jay-Jay Okocha". PR2J3C4 - Nigeria @ Her Best. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Augustin Okocha Profile @ TFF.org
- "Okocha: "Fenerbahçe'ye hoca olmak istiyorum"" (in Turkish). ajansspor.com. 7 February 2019. Archived from the original on 8 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
- "Okocha: Local Players Not 'Ripe' Yet". Thisday Live. 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 October 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
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- "Desert Island Goals: Jay-Jay Okocha v West Ham". Manny Road. 5 October 2008. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- "Jay-Jay's triumph in our best goal vote". The Bolton News. 9 October 2008. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
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- 1994 Africa Cup of Nations squads#Nigeria
- 1994 Africa Cup of Nations#Caf Team of Tournament
- Orr, Tamra (2006). Jay-Jay Okocha. MITCHELL LANE. ISBN 1-58415-493-4. OCLC 690752547.
- De Michele, Carmen (8 December 2011), "Okocha, Augustine Azuka", African American Studies Center, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780195301731.013.49698, ISBN 978-0-19-530173-1
- "Okocha, Mikel, Yak, Kanu or Yobo – Who is the best Super Eagles skipper? – Futbal Galore". 26 July 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- "Pele's 125 Greatest Footballers Included Some Seriously Bizarre Choices". sportbible.com. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
- "Is Okocha the best African ever?". BBC Sport. 11 April 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Piers Edwards (13 October 2015). "History of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Nixon, Alan (25 February 2004). "O'Neill seeks Okocha to add flair in midfield". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
- "Jay-Jay Okocha: il fantasista nigeriano che ha stupito Ronaldinho" [Jay-Jay Okocha: the Nigerian playmaker who amazed Ronaldinho] (in Italian). www.goal.com. 11 December 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "Jay-Jay Okocha: The dazzling dribbler who danced his way into football greatness". FIFA.com. 27 April 2023. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Sam Wallace (12 May 2003). "Okocha's dazzling feet set Allardyce off on survival jig". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- Dove, Ed (15 May 2020). "African Legends Cup of Nations: Eto'o vs Okocha". www.goal.com. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
- Hayward, Joshua (24 November 2013). "20 Football Tricks and the Players Who Invented Them". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
- Jiang, Allan (25 January 2012). "50 Greatest Dribblers in World Football History". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "Okocha or Kanu: Who was the greater player?". www.goal.com. 15 May 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Ingle, Sean (16 August 2004). "Okocha leaves Charlton with nothing but shame". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Carey, Mark (23 March 2022). "Analysing Europe's free-kick takers: the good, the bad and the brilliance of James Ward-Prowse". The Athletic. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "Jay-Jay Okocha: Nigeria's Aesthetic Maestro". Goal.com. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "The best of Jay Jay Okocha". www.premierleague.com. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Davies, Amanda; Stokes, David (26 September 2017). "Jay-Jay Okocha: I'm jealous of PSG's current players". CNN. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Ed Jones (6 April 2003). "Okocha leads by example". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- "Ozil honoured to meet 'childhood idol' Okocha at Fenerbahce". www.goal.com. 10 December 2021. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "Okocha one of greatest ever players for Africa, could play with Ronaldinho on bench - Gyan". www.goal.com. 20 December 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- "Magie senza frontiere: la carriera di Jay-Jay Okocha" [Examples of magic without borders: the career of Jay-Jay Okocha] (in Italian). www.goal.com. 14 August 2022. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
- Holt, Nick (2014). Mammoth Book Of The World Cup. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-4721-1051-0. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
- Arts, Electronic (12 August 2014). "New Legends Coming to FIFA 15 Ultimate Team". Electronic Arts Inc. Retrieved 5 September 2022.
- Egbokhan, John (23 February 2015). "Nigeria: Okocha Succeeds Pinnick As Delta FA Chairman". Vanguard (Lagos). Retrieved 14 May 2018.
- "Okocha wants to be President of NFF - Vanguard News". Vanguard News. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
- https://www.bwfc.co.uk/news/2016/may/report-team-mcginlay-6-2-team-kelly/ BWFC: "Report: Team McGinlay 6-2 Team Kelly"]
- Omilana, Timileyin (1 June 2019). "Okocha arraigned for alleged money laundering in Scotland". The Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
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- BWFC: "Wanderers 7 All Stars 4"
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- "Semi-final success unites Nigeria". BBC News. 11 February 2000. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
Two of the Super Eagles' top international stars, Arsenal star Nwankwo Kanu and Paris St Germain's Augustine 'Jay-Jay' Okocha are Ibo.
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