Jay-Jay Okocha

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Jay-Jay Okocha
Match legends 2017 CC (5).jpg
Okocha playing in a 2017 charity match
Personal information
Full name Augustine Azuka Okocha[1]
Date of birth (1973-08-14) 14 August 1973 (age 48)[1]
Place of birth Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Height 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)[1]
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Youth career
Enugu Rangers
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1992 Borussia Neunkirchen 35 (7)
1992–1996 Eintracht Frankfurt 90 (18)
1996–1998 Fenerbahçe 62 (30)
1998–2002 Paris Saint-Germain 84 (12)
2002–2006 Bolton Wanderers 124 (14)
2006–2007 Qatar SC 41 (6)
2007–2008 Hull City 18 (0)
Total 454 (89)
National team
1993–2006 Nigeria 73 (14)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha (/əˈkɒə/ ə-KOTCH; born 14 August 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.

Club career[edit]

Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha was born in Enugu, Enugu State.[1] His parents lived in Iwo local Government, Osun State, Nigeria. 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 Okocha instead. He began playing football on the streets just like many other football stars, usually with a makeshift ball.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] A year later, he joined 1. FC Saarbrücken, but stayed only a few months with the 2. Bundesliga side before a move to the 1. Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt.[5]

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 and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Kahn even going past some players twice.[6] 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).[7] 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.[8]

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 the Istanbul club Fenerbahçe.

Fenerbahçe[edit]

Okocha joined Turkish club Fenerbahçe for approximately £1 million following Eintracht Frankfurt's relegation to the 2. Bundesliga.[4] 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.[9]

Okocha acquired Turkish citizenship and chose the name Muhammed Yavuz while playing for Fenerbahçe.[10][11]

Paris Saint-Germain[edit]

In 1998, French side Paris Saint-Germain spent around £14 million to sign Okocha,[4] making him the most expensive African player at the time. During his four-year stint with PSG, he played 84 matches and scored 12 goals. He has also served as a mentor, at the time, for young Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho during his time in Paris.[12]

Bolton Wanderers[edit]

Okocha joined Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer after leaving PSG in the summer of 2002 after the FIFA World Cup.[13] 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 the team Goal of the Season in the vital league win against West Ham United.[14] This was voted Bolton's best Premier League goal in a fans vote in 2008.[15] 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 their first cup final in nine years where they finished runners-up in the 2004 Football League Cup to Middlesbrough.[16]

In 2006, he 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 had probably been due to his proposed move to the Middle East, which had been growing in speculation. At the end of the season, he refused a one-year extension in order to move to Qatar.[17]

Following Bolton's relegation from the Premier League in 2012, Okocha stated that his time 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.[18]

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".[19] He however was not able 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.[20]

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.[21][22] And the World Cup squad who made it to the second round before they lost in 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 Olympic gold winning basketball team. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup hosted by France, 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.[23][24]

Okocha again joined the Super Eagles in the 2000 African Cup of Nations co-hosted with Ghana. He scored three goals in the tournament, two in the opening game against Tunisia, and then given a standing ovation by the nearly 60,000 attendance when he left the field.[24]

He made a return to the Super Eagles in his 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 game 2–1 with Okocha scoring the winning goal after appearing for the side in the second half.[25] In March 2004, he was named one of the top 125 living footballers by Pelé.[26]

Style of play[edit]

A quick, talented, and skilful playmaker, Okocha usually played as an attacking midfielder, and is widely considered by certain pundits internationally as the best Nigerian footballer ever, and as one of the best African players of all time.[27][28][29] He is still remembered by Fenerbahçe fans as one of the legends of the club and country. Okocha was known for his confidence and trickery with the ball, technique, creativity, flair, close control, and dribbling skills, as well as his turn of pace and his use of feints, in particular the stepover and his trademark turns.[29][30][31][32] 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).[33] Despite his ability, however, he was also known for being inconsistent.[34]

Post-playing career[edit]

On 21 February 2015, Okocha was elected as the Chair of the Delta State Football Association.[35]

In April 2015, Okocha expressed his interest in becoming the Nigeria Football Federation president.[36]

On 15 May 2016, Okocha played in a charity match as part of "Team John McGinlay" against "Team Tony Kelly" at the Macron Stadium and scored a hat-trick in his team's 6-2 win.[37]

In June 2019, it was reported that Okocha had been charged with alleged money laundering in Scotland.[38][39]

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, who had been diagnosed with Motor neuron disease. The Bolton first team won 7–4, with Okocha scoring a penalty for the Legends team.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Okocha is from Anioma, a subgroup of Igbo ethnic derivative.[41] 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 Everton and Nigeria.[42]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Eintracht Frankfurt 1992–93[43] Bundesliga 20 2 3 1 3[a] 0 26 3
1993–94[43] Bundesliga 19 2 2 0 4[a] 2 25 4
1994–95[43] Bundesliga 27 7 2 0 7[a] 0 36 7
1995–96[43] Bundesliga 24 7 1 1 4[b] 3 29 11
Total 90 18 8 2 18 5 116 25
Fenerbahçe 1996–97[43] 1.Lig 33 16 3 1 1[c] 0 8[d] 1 45 18
1997–98[43] 1.Lig 29 14 0 0 2[a] 0 31 14
Total 62 30 3 1 1 0 10 1 76 32
Paris Saint-Germain 1998–99[43] French Division 1 25 4 0 0 2 0 2[e] 1 29 5
1999–2000[43] French Division 1 23 2 1 0 3 0 26 2
2000–01[43] French Division 1 16 2 1 0 1 0 6[d] 1 24 3
2001–02[43] French Division 1 20 4 2 0 2 1 9[f] 5 33 10
Total 84 12 4 0 8 1 17 7 112 20
Bolton Wanderers 2002–03[44] Premier League 31 7 0 0 0 0 31 7
2003–04[44] Premier League 35 0 0 0 6 3 41 3
2004–05[44] Premier League 31 6 1 0 1 1 33 7
2005–06[44] Premier League 27 1 3 0 0 0 7[a] 0 37 1
Total 124 14 4 0 7 4 7 0 142 18
Hull City 2007–08[43] Championship 18 0 0 0 1 0 19 0
Career total 378 74 19 3 17 5 52 13 465 95
  1. ^ a b c d e Appearances in UEFA Cup
  2. ^ Appearances in UEFA Intertoto Cup
  3. ^ Appearance in Turkish Super Cup
  4. ^ a b Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  5. ^ Appearances in UEFA Cup Winners' Cup
  6. ^ Six appearances and five goals in UEFA Intertoto Cup, three appearances in UEFA Cup

International[edit]

Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
Nigeria[45] 1993 3 1
1994 11 0
1995 5 1
1996 1 0
1997 5 0
1998 5 0
1999 1 0
2000 7 4
2001 8 1
2002 12 1
2003 3 1
2004 8 4
2005 2 1
2006 2 0
Total 73 14
Scores and results list Nigeria's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Okocha goal.[46]
List of international goals scored by Jay-Jay Okocha
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
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
4 2–1
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

Honours[edit]

Borussia Neunkirchen

Fenerbahçe

Paris Saint-Germain

Bolton Wanderers

Hull City

Nigeria U23

Nigeria

Individual

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Hugman, Barry J., ed. (2008). The PFA Footballers' Who's Who 2008–09. Mainstream Publishing. p. 319. ISBN 978-1-84596-324-8.
  2. ^ "Jay-jay Okocha's Parents Once Lived In A Remote Part of Osun State - Opera News". ng.opera.news. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  3. ^ "IFFHS". www.iffhs.com. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Massarella, Louis (September 2004). Sleight, Hugh (ed.). "So good they named him twice". FourFourTwo. Teddington: Haymarket Magazines (121): 72–6. ISSN 1355-0276.
  5. ^ Blackcoin (7 March 2021). "Okocha helped change football in Germany, says Felix Agu". BSN Sports. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  6. ^ "jay jay okocha vs KSC". 27 July 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  7. ^ "August 1993 - Okocha". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  8. ^ #; # (8 May 2020). "Jay Jay Okocha: "I dribble racist in Germany to pay them back"". KICK442. Retrieved 31 May 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Olulana, Deji (4 January 2017). "Jay-Jay Okocha". PR2J3C4 - Nigeria @ Her Best. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  10. ^ Augustin Okocha Profile @ TFF.org
  11. ^ "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.
  12. ^ "Okocha: Local Players Not 'Ripe' Yet". Thisday Live. 15 May 2012. Archived from the original on 15 October 2014. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Okocha joins Bolton". BBC Sport. 18 June 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ Pereira, Bimpe (9 July 2019). "Passion For Football - The Untold 'Jay Jay' Okocha Story". Latest Sports News In Nigeria. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  17. ^ Bimpe, Pereira (20 May 2020). "The Story Behind Jay Jay Okocha Passion For Football". Latest Sports and Football News in Nigeria | Sports247. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  18. ^ Iles, Marc (25 May 2012). "Jay Jay drops a bombshell". The Bolton News. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  19. ^ "Biography of Jay-Jay Okocha - Opera News". ng.opera.news. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  20. ^ "jay jay okocha brother". plumbersinsurance.net.au. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  21. ^ 1994 Africa Cup of Nations squads#Nigeria
  22. ^ 1994 Africa Cup of Nations#Caf Team of Tournament
  23. ^ Orr, Tamra. (2006). Jay-Jay Okocha. MITCHELL LANE. ISBN 1-58415-493-4. OCLC 690752547.
  24. ^ a b 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
  25. ^ "Okocha, Mikel, Yak, Kanu or Yobo - Who is the best Super Eagles skipper? - Futbal Galore". 26 July 2020. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  26. ^ "Pele's 125 Greatest Footballers Included Some Seriously Bizarre Choices". www.sportbible.com. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  27. ^ "Is Okocha the best African ever?". BBC Sport. 11 April 2005. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  28. ^ Piers Edwards (13 October 2015). "History of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award". BBC Sport. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  29. ^ a b Nixon, Alan (25 February 2004). "O'Neill seeks Okocha to add flair in midfield". The Independent. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  30. ^ Sam Wallace (12 May 2003). "Okocha's dazzling feet set Allardyce off on survival jig". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  31. ^ Dove, Ed (15 May 2020). "African Legends Cup of Nations: Eto'o vs Okocha". www.goal.com. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  32. ^ Hayward, Joshua (24 November 2013). "20 Football Tricks and the Players Who Invented Them". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  33. ^ Ed Jones (6 April 2003). "Okocha leads by example". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  34. ^ Holt, Nick (2014). Mammoth Book Of The World Cup. Little, Brown Book Group. ISBN 978-1-4721-1051-0. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  35. ^ Egbokhan, John (23 February 2015). "Nigeria: Okocha Succeeds Pinnick As Delta FA Chairman". Vanguard (Lagos). Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  36. ^ "Okocha wants to be President of NFF - Vanguard News". Vanguard News. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  37. ^ https://www.bwfc.co.uk/news/2016/may/report-team-mcginlay-6-2-team-kelly/ BWFC: "Report: Team McGinlay 6-2 Team Kelly"]
  38. ^ Omilana, Timileyin (1 June 2019). "Okocha arraigned for alleged money laundering in Scotland". The Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  39. ^ Eludini, Tunde (3 June 2019). "Jay Jay Okocha charged for alleged money laundering". Premium Times Nigeria. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  40. ^ BWFC: "Wanderers 7 All Stars 4"
  41. ^ "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.
  42. ^ Boyland, Patrick (14 January 2021). "Alex Iwobi's key role in Carlo Ancelotti's Everton". The Athletic. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  43. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jay-Jay Okocha Stats". FBREF. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  44. ^ a b c d "Jay Jay Okocha". Premier League. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  45. ^ Passo Alpuin, Luis Fernando (31 July 2008). "Augustine Okocha – International Appearances". rsssf.com. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  46. ^ "Augustine Okocha – International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  47. ^ "August 1993 - Okocha" (in German). Sportschau. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  48. ^ "FIFA Technical Study Group designates MasterCard All-Star Team". FIFA.com. 10 July 1998. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  49. ^ "Jay Jay Okocha: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 28 September 2018.
  50. ^ "Okocha named best player of tournament". IOL. 14 February 2004. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  51. ^ "IFFHS". IFFHS. 29 May 2021. Retrieved 31 May 2021.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by Nigeria captain
2002–2006
Succeeded by