Augustine Azuka Jay-Jay Okocha – So good they named him twice. Jay-Jay is of Nigerian descent, and was born in Enugu back in 1973. He used to play football in his home town, which was poverty-stricken. Jay-Jay recalled that they used to play football with ‘anything they could find’. He played for his local Enugu Rangers first of all, but finally landed his contract in pro football when he travelled to Germany in 1990, after being offered a contract with German minnows Borussia Neunkirchen.
Okocha moved up the leagues with Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992, who poached him from the lower leagues. He was brilliant for the club, and stayed there for four years, making almost 100 appearances. He left in 1996 after a bust-up with then manager Jupp Heynckes led to a mass exodus. He transferred to Turkish club Fenerbache in 1996.
In Turkey, Jay-Jay played sixty games, and even became a Turkish citizen. He played in the champions league for the club and was known for his brilliant skills from free kicks. He amassed thirty goals at the club.
His form at the Turkish club led PSG to splash out a huge $24million for the Nigerian midfielder’s services, making him the most expensive African player ever at the time (1998). He played for the French giants for four years and scored 14 goals in 84 games. He left the club on a free transfer in 2002, which was also the summer in which he represented Nigeria at the World Cup.
Bolton swooped for Jay-Jay’s services, and stole him on a free transfer, bringing him to the premier league for the first time. Okocha made more appearances for Bolton than for any other club, and became something of a legend, gaining the club captaincy and winning a premier league goal of the season award. As captain of the club, Jay-Jay led Bolton to a League Cup final, though they lost out on the day.
Jay-Jay spent stints in Qatar and then back in England with Hull before his retirement in 2008, though he has returned to play football in a newly-formed Indian league.
As an International footballer, Okocha played 73 times for his native Nigeria, scoring 14 goals. He twice won African footballer of the year in his illustrious career.
Jay-Jay Okocha, The North Stand salutes you!