On his birthday, we celebrate the legendary Jay-Jay Okocha. The magical No 10 was of deft feet and silky skills, mesmerizing with his signature reverse step-overs and leaving many breathless with his effusive talent.
We look at five times the midfield maestro left our mouths ajar.
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Karlsruher SC
Doubtless, no Okocha highlight reel or compilation is complete without the sheer ignominy a young Oliver Kahn suffered at the feet of Jay-Jay Okocha. The collection of feints and drags was astounding, the abandon with which Okocha executed the moves were impressive. He not only controlled the ball but toyed with the defenders, cocksure no matter how long he sashayed with the ball, it was going to end at the back of the net. Why not have a bit of fun then?
Bolton vs Aston Villa
Asides his nifty tricks and close control, Okocha certainly knew how to strike a ball. Severally, from long range and acute angles, the Nigerian found the net. He was also a major threat from set-pieces, adopting different techniques to hit goal. In Bolton’s semifinal game against Aston Villa, Okocha showed his quality, curling in two sweet-strikes from dead balls.
Nigeria vs Cameroon
After suffering far too many defeats at the hands of the Cameroonians, the 2004 AFCON quarter final match had to be won. With the Super Eagles behind from Samuel Eto’o’s goal, Okocha stepped up on the stroke of half-time to drag Nigeria back into the game with a sumptuous free-kick that left Carlos Kameni rigged to the spot. Okocha delivered an assured and matured performance the whole game but his free-kick remain indelibly inked in our memories.
Bolton vs Manchester United
So good they named him twice. The magician produced an otherworldly performance, dominating a midfield that had Paul Scholes and Roy Keane.
Arguably, Okocha played his best during his years at PSG in France. He moved for £14 million after he lit the 1998 World Cup. The trickster served a potpourri of tricks, passes and thunderblasts that almost unhinged posts in the French league.
Many other times Okocha was simply the best!