International Wanderers: Jay-Jay Okocha

So good they named him twice - Getty Images

In the second of the series, Chris takes a look back at the career of our favourite Nigerian magician

Augustine Azuka "Jay-Jay" Okocha was born in August 1973, in Enugu, Nigeria. You may not know, but he is a dual Nigerian-Turkish citizen, known as Muhammet Yavuz - a decision made whilst playing for Süper Lig team Fenerbahçe.

Augustine, nicknamed Jay-Jay by family, first picked up a football as a child on the streets of Nigeria, progressing to the point where in 1990 he joined local side Enugu Rangers.

Okocha owes his career to a turn of events in 1990 - he travelled to Germany to visit a friend and took part in a park game, where he was spotted by a scout from German Third Division side Borussia Neunkirchen. He impressed in a trial game and was given a three year professional contract, making 35 appearances, scoring seven times along the way.

Two years into the deal, he was bought by Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt, home to Ghanaian legend Anthony Yeboah and German midfielder Thomas Doll. He continued his good form at the higher level, and famously scored against Karlsruhe following a mazy dribble and finish beyond Oliver Kahn, who would go on to be the German National goalkeeper for about four hundred years. The goal won the 1994 Goal of the Season competition.

He left Eintracht Frankfurt in 1995 following a dispute with manager Jupp Heynckes along with Yeboah, as Frankfurt were relegated to the Second Division. Okocha ignored offers from England and Spain to sign a lucrative deal with Fenerbahçe of Istanbul.

He flourished in Turkey. Played as a dynamic attacking midfielder, he notched an impressive 30 goals in 62 games, with several coming from direct free-kicks, a trait which would continue in his subsequent moves elsewhere. His successes in Turkey brought his talent to wider attention, and after just two seasons at Fenerbahçe he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 1998 for a record-breaking £24m, which made him the most expensive ever African footballer.

At Paris Saint-Germain, Okocha would play alongside future West Ham goalkeeper Bernard Lama, former AC Milan striker Marco Simone and German captain Christian Wörns. However, his four years at the club would only yield 84 appearances, and a disappointing 14 goals.

Following the 2002 World Cup, Okocha left Paris, and shocked the footballing world by signing for English Premier League strugglers Bolton Wanderers, managed at the time by Sam Allardyce. Bolton had just avoided relegation back to the First Division by the skin of their teeth, and manager Allardyce was looking to build on that relative success in order to make sure that the club became an established Premier League force.

His first season at the club brought a joint-top score of seven goals in 32 games as the club finished in 17th place in the league. Frenchman Youri Djorkaeff and Dane Henrik Pedersen also hit seven goals. Okocha's partnership with Per Frandsen in the centre of midfield became key for the club. Indeed both scored on the final day of the season as Bolton defeated Middlesbrough 2-1 to ensure another season in the division. He also won the Goal of the Season competition following a wonderful goal against relegation rivals West Ham.

The following season saw Bolton, now captained by Okocha, finish an impressive 8th in the league. However, his return of just three cup goals was poor by his previous standards. Fellow midfielder Kevin Nolan filled the gap left by Frandsen, scoring 13 times in the process. As captain he led the club to our first cup final in nine years, in which we finished runners-up in the 2004 Football League Cup to Middlesbrough.

The 2004/05 season saw Wanderers improve to finish in 6th place. The signings of former Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro and ex-Liverpool man El-Hadji Diouf brought about a new impetus and pushed Wanderers forward. Okocha would go on to make 31 appearances in total, scoring twice.

At the end of the season however, things would turn sour for Okocha at Bolton Wanderers. In 2006, he was stripped of the captaincy following speculation surrounding a proposed move to the Middle East, At the end of the season, he refused a one-year extension in order to move to Qatar. He signed for Qatar Sports Club that year after four seasons in Bolton.

He made 41 appearances for the club, before returning to England. Former Bolton assistant manager and then Hull City manager Phil Brown took Okocha to the Championship on a free transfer following rumoured moves to America and Real Salt Lake and Australian side Sydney FC. Due to fitness and constant injury problems, he made a mere 18 appearances for the Tigers, and failed to score along the way. Despite this the club won promotion to the Premier League, for the first time in their history.

Okocha made his international debut for Nigeria in May 1993, though was unable to prevent an away defeat to Ivory Coast. In 1994, he was a member of both the African Cup of Nations squad and the World Cup squad who made it to the second round before defeat to eventual runners-up Italy.

In 1996, Okocha won Olympic Gold with the national team in Atlanta. In 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. He was named in the ‘Squad of the Tournament'

Okocha scored three goals in the 2000 Cup of Nations, including one in the Final. The game against Cameroon went to penalties and though Okocha scored from the spot, Nigeria lost the shootout to earn the silver medal.

His first tournament as captain came that summer in the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. Playing in Group E alongside Argentina, Sweden and England, Nigeria failed to make it to the next round gaining only one point in their final game, a goalless draw against England.

Okocha later led the Nigerian team to a third place finish at the 2004 African Nations Cup in Tunisia,scoring four times along the way including the 1000th goal in Nations Cup history against South Africa. He also won the Player of the Tournament and was joint Golden Boot winner.

He then played in his final international appearance in a 2-1 victory in a third place playoff against Senegal, he was then given a standing ovation by the nearly 60,000 attendance when he left the field.

Despite his international fame, he never won the African Player of Year award, though was runner-up in 1998 and 2004. He did however win the inaugural BBC African Footballer of the Year and the successive one, becoming the only player to retain the award.

Club performance

League

Cup

League Cup

Continental

Total

Season

Club

League

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Apps

Goals

Germany

League

DFB-Pokal

Other

Europe

Total

1992-93

Eintracht Frankfurt

Bundesliga

20

2

1993-94

19

2

1994-95

27

7

1995-96

24

7

Turkey

League

Türkiye Kupası

League Cup

Europe

Total

1996-97

Fenerbahçe

Super League

33

16

4

1

-

-

8

1

45

18

1997-98

29

14

3

1

-

-

2

0

34

15

France

League

Coupe de France

Coupe de la Ligue

Europe

Total

1998-99

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue 1

25

4

2

0

2

1

29

5

1999-2000

23

2

3

0

-

-

26

2

2000-01

16

2

1

0

6

1

23

3

2001-02

20

4

2

1

3

0

25

5

England

League

FA Cup

League Cup

Europe

Total

2002-03

Bolton Wanderers

Premier League

31

7

1

0

0

0

-

-

32

7

2003-04

35

0

0

0

6

3

-

-

41

3

2004-05

31

6

1

0

1

1

-

-

33

7

2005-06

27

1

3

0

2

0

7

0

38

2

Qatar

League

Emir of Qatar Cup

League Cup

Asia

Total

2006-07

Qatar

Qatar Stars League

41

6

England

League

FA Cup

League Cup

Europe

Total

2007-08

Hull City

Championship

18

0

Total

Germany

90

18

Turkey

79

33

France

80

12

England

142

15

Qatar

41

6

Career total

432

84

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