In this article, we take a look at Jay-Jay Okocha biography, who is widely considered to be one of the most renowned Nigerian and African footballers of all time.
Augustine Azuka Okocha, born in Enugu, Nigeria; on 14 August 1973, better known as Jay-Jay Okocha, is a Nigerian former footballer who played as a midfielder. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Nigerian and African players of all time, he was known for his dribbling skills, technique and creativity.
Okocha was at the heart of one of the greatest milestones in the history of African football: the gold medal at Atlanta 96, where Nigeria's U-23 team defeated Argentina 3-2. He was also voted Nigeria's player of the year seven times and featured in the FIFA 100, a list of the best living players compiled by Pele at FIFA's request.
His goal against Karlsruher SC, in which he twice beat Oliver Kahn, playing for Eintracht Frankfurt in 1993, is remembered as one of the best goals in Bundesliga history. As one of the best dribblers in football history, the style of his play later inspired Ronaldinho's technique. He is famous for his high-quality free-kicks and long-range shots.
Related Article:Petr Cech Biography
For 13 years between 1993 and 2006, the attacking midfielder played in many tournaments for his country including 1995 US Cup, 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups and in 1994, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006 African Cup of Nations.
Now that we know him much better, in this section of
Jay-Jay Okocha biography
we will share some more general information about him such as
Jay-Jay Okocha nationality
Jay-Jay Okocha Bio
Full Name: Augustine Azuka Okocha
Profession: Professional Footballer
Jay-Jay Okocha Physical Stats
Weight: 70 Kg
Height: 1.73 m
Eye Color: Dark Brown
Hair Color: Black
Jay-Jay Okocha Football Information
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Jersey Number: 10
Professional Debut: 1990
Jay-Jay Okocha Date of Birth and Personal Info
Date of Birth: 14 August 1973
Birth Place: Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Stay tuned as we are going to share some information about
Jay-Jay Okocha childhood
in this section of
Jay-Jay Okocha biography
Jay-Jay Okocha was born on 14 August 1973 in Enugu, Nigeria. He started playing football with the youth teams of the local club, the Enugu Rangers Football Club. But as a teenager, in spite of his already impressive performances, his reputation remained relatively unknown outside Nigeria. At his club, the gifted youngster perfected his technique on bumpy pitches.
When he was eighteen, Augustine had a meeting with a friend in Germany. Binemi Numa was a good player for VfB Borussia Neunkirchen and he invited him to the training grounds of this German Division 3 club. After half an hour's training time, the word was already spreading among spectators and coaches about his talent. When he returned to the changing rooms, a contract was waiting for him.
At just 18 years of age, Okocha instantly established himself as an important part of the first team, playing 35 matches and scoring seven goals. The elite clubs quickly spotted him, impressed by his strength, his dribbling and the power of his shots.
Related Article:John Terry Biography
Six months later,Eintracht Frankfurt
signed him. In December 1991, Augustine Okocha discovered theBundesliga
. His technical skills, eye-catching dribbles, placed shots and an impressive sense of play - got everyone's attention in Germany.
Recognized and admired in a European football, the doors of the national team were naturally opened to him. His behaviour was a little amateurish and had little to do with the inflexibility and strictness in use in the German league, but Okocha had character. Hating the hard way, he and two team-mates refused to comply with the demands of Jupp Heynckes, the Frankfurt coach. After an imposed extra training with the reserve team, the day before a match againstHamburg
, he refused to play. His high popularity meant that he could not be dismissed from the team.
He became a beloved player and an important figure in Germany, sometimes used by people like Andreas von Schöller for municipal elections. No doubt about it, the Nigerian bird took advantage of this opportunity to spread its wings. Very popular, he recorded a song and a video clip surrounded by children under the title "I'm Jay-Jay". A dazzling success, this piece of rhythmic rock sold 10,000 copies. He left Germany after 90 matches with Eintracht, scoring 17 Bundesliga goals and two goals in 14 UEFA Cup matches for his team.
Stay tuned as we are going to share some information about his Fenerbahce career.
Okocha responded to the calls of Fenerbahce, who signed him for 22 million francs (currently around 4.2 million euros), an amount considered low at the time for the level of the player who earned 1.7 million euros a year. The freshly crowned champion of the Atlanta Olympics literally exploded in Istanbul, instantly proving himself to be one of Süper Lig's most spectacular players. He was a star in Turkey, with an African boubou tattoo on his back, red hair, smiling in a corner, he burst onto the TV sets and was very popular in the country.
Turkey adored him. He also became a citizen and adopted the name of Mohamed Yavuz, a surname that will remain known only to Turkish fans. For his first season at Fenerbahçe, he finished as the club's top scorer with 16 goals. During the 1996-1997 season, he helped to bring downManchester United
at Old Trafford in the Champions League, a real feat for a Turkish club at the time.
Much more productive in front of goal than he was in Germany, Okocha was also more consistent in his performances, extremely decisive at the heart of the Blue and Yellow game. It is at the Şükrü Saracoğlu stadium that he had the highest goals-per-game ratio in his entire career, scoring no less than 30 goals in two seasons and sixty matches forFenerbahce
(one in theChampions League
). His singular, hyper-legendary style and relaxed attitude made him a huge star in Istanbul, yet in the rest of the world, the 25-year-old playmaker was just one of many talented players.
Related Article:Carles Puyol Biography
The 1998 World Cup in France served as a stepping stone for him. After the elimination of his team, Charles Biétry, then director of sports at Canal+ and future deputy chairman of PSG became interested in the playmaker. He wanted to make him the successor to Raí and Leonardo. Once appointed at the head of the Parisian club, he started negotiations with the managers of Fenerbahçe and an agreement was reached for 90 million francs (17.4 million euros at this time), which then made him the most expensive transfer in the French Division 1, and the most expensive African player in the history of football.
At Fenerbahçe's headquarters, the announcement of Okocha's departure was like a bomb and the premises of the Istanbul club were overrun by angry fans. Okocha signed a four-year contract withParis Saint Germain
Jay-Jay joined the team at Lodge Camp in early August. On August 8, 1998, inBordeaux
, he made his debut after 76 minutes, dribbling two players and before scoring a 25-metre goal, leaving Ulrich Ramé speechless. The following week, he was lined up by Alain Giresse and the deal with Marco Simone was immediate. This was the first of a long series, with some much more insipid performances and too many injuries.
At PSG, Okocha strengthened his reputation as an artist of the ball, with an impeccable individual technique, well above average. His dribbling skills earned him a move named after him, the "Jay-Jay". The most natural example remains his famous strikes, both very powerful and precise, as a soloist, capable of high-flying performances as well as much quieter outings. His first season in the Parisian capital thus turned out to be more delicate than expected. The coach was quickly dismissed after a pitiful elimination in the UEFA Cup against Maccabi Haifa.
Artur Jorge succeeded him until March 1999, before being replaced by Philippe Bergeroo. In the meantime, Laurent Perpère had also succeeded Charles Biétry as President. Okocha scored three more league goals (including a double on 30 October 1998 against Auxerre).
In a team reinforced by the arrivals of Ali Benarbia, Laurent Robert and Christian, the 1999-2000 season was more successful from a team point of view. The club came second in the FrenchLigue 1
but failed miserably in the final of the League Cup against Gueugnon. Okocha scored twice in that good league run, on 14 August 1999 againstMetz
and on 12 September 1999 against Bordeaux.
For its return to the Champions League, PSG was strengthened during the off-season and the 2000-2001 squad was ambitiously reinforced with the addition of Stéphane Dalmat, Peter Luccin and Nicolas Anelka. The Nigerian's season started well (a goal againstSaint-Etienne
on the 7th day), but it was quickly diminished from the trip to Monaco on November 18th 2000, and he only appeared six times in the league until the end of the season.
Okocha scored again on 3 March 2001 by opening the score againstToulouse
with a long-range shot (3-0 victory). He did the same four days later on the field of La Coruna, but his team finally came back and beat Toulouse 4-3 after leading 0-3 at the Riazor. For this third year in Paris, he met his fourth coach, with the return of Luis Fernandez in December 2000.
The following season, once again Okocha made a good start by scoring 5 goals in the Intertoto Cup, helping his club to win the title against Roberto Baggio’s Brescia. By winning the Intertoto Cup PSG was granted a place in the UEFA Cup. That season he also managed to score 4 goals in the league. On 27 April 2002, he bids farewell to the Parc des Princes before playing his last match under the Parisian jersey at Lille on 4 May 2002 (1-0 defeat). He left France and handed his number 10 to Ronaldinho before flying to Bolton at the end of his contract.
Stay tuned as we are going to share some information about hisBolton
Related Article:Pavel Nedved Biography
Following a 2002 World Cup that was less successful than the previous ones for the "Super Eagles" due to a generational changeover that did not take place after the end of the Amokachi generation and a difficult group, Okocha changed leagues and joined theEnglish Premier League
. At Bolton, he met up with a former PSG teammate, Bernard Mendy and also played with Youri Djorkaeff and Iván Campo, a recent signing from Real Madrid. Sam Allardyce's squad was then made up of experienced players, but rather at the end of their careers.
As in his previous clubs, Okocha was quickly adopted by the fans, and in the end, all the observers of the league agreed on his talent: even in his thirties, Okocha was still an incredible footballer. As in his best times in Turkey and Germany, the Reebok Stadium would soon worship him. Despite his prestigious team-mates, he was undoubtedly the star of the team. He made a major contribution to saving the small suburban Manchester club by scoring seven vital goals in his first season in England.
The following year he was appointed captain and took the team to the League Cup final. He also achieved the highest Premier League ranking in the club's history (8th). Okocha was then both captain of the Super Eagles and captain of Bolton. He was voted best African player by the BBC in 2003 and 2004, and to date, he is the only player to have won this trophy twice, let alone twice in a row. He is also considered the second greatest player in Bolton's history after Nat Lofthouse (an England international in the 1950s).
At the end of his contract with Bolton, he decided not to extend it and to sign with Qatar SC for the 2006-2007 season. He played 124 Premier League matches for Bolton and scored 14 goals, and played in the UEFA Cup with the Wanderers.
In the Qatari league, Okocha succeeded his former team-mate Ali Benarbia. In an unstable team with a series of coaches, he played 41 matches for the club and scored 6 goals. After only one year, he quickly left the Persian Gulf country.
In 2007-2008, he returned to England with the Hull City team in the Championship (2nd English division). At the age of 34, Okocha was involved in the club's rise to the Premier League, playing 18 matches before retiring from the game.
Related Article:Paul Scholes Biography
Okocha played his first official match with the Super Eagles on May 2, 1993, against Cote d'Ivoire in the African Zone qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup in the USA, a match which ended in a two to one victory for Cote d'Ivoire at the Félix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan.Nigeria
was finally able to qualify for the World Cup in the United States, despite the defeat in Abidjan, the first in its history.
Despite its many fans, the stars were then Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Amokachi and Rashidi Yekini. Clemens Westerhof did not know him until the semi-final of the 1994 CAN. Okocha then appeared in the return match against Côte d'Ivoire on 25 September 1993 in Lagos and became indispensable. Nigeria defeated Côte d'Ivoire by four goals to one and it was not until the last day against Algeria that it was decided whether Nigeria or Côte d'Ivoire would go to the United States.
A defeat of Nigeria against Algeria in Algiers qualified Côte d'Ivoire. On 08 October 1993, Nigeria managed to draw the match against Algeria with a goal and qualified for the 1994 World Cup. Nigeria won the group stage of the competition in theUSA
and reached the 8th finals of the World Cup in the same year, only to be beaten by Italy. Okocha wasn't yet 21 years old and proved his technical skills.
Decisive during the qualifying campaign and now the undisputed number 10 of the national team due to the persistent injuries of Amunike, flanked by midfield sentry Sunday Oliseh to give his creative play free rein, Jay-Jay Okocha landed on French soil for the 1998 World Cup, convinced that the Super Eagles could emerge without difficulty from their group.
The draw set aside for them Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria, and the media also portrayed Nigeria 98 as the first African team capable of winning the World Cup. Okocha, who was injured in one ankle during the preparations, only reappeared for the world premiere of the Olympic champions against Spain, seeded in the group. Nigeria illuminated the group stage and overwhelmed the crowds with their freshness and madness by coming out on top of Group D with two victories to their name.
Okocha was the star of the squad and splashed the competition with his inimitable style of play, using incredible tricks and precise and spontaneous crosses. In the match against Spain he put on a legendary performance, as did his team-mates, and the Super Eagles crucified Fernando Hierro's La Roja with three goals to two. Unfortunately, dulled by the level of the debates and no doubt a little exhilarated by their exploits, Okocha and his team-mates fell cruelly to earth when they were knocked out in the last 16 by Denmark (4-1).
Just like four years earlier, the adventure ended in the 8th final and the disappointment, considering the hopes that their first-round had raised, was immense. But Augustine Okocha was one of the most important figures of an otherwise unspectacular World Cup 98. Jay-Jay was now recognised at the height of his talent: he showed that he was indeed one of the most talented number 10s on the planet.
The 2002 World Cup was much less brilliant than the previous ones for the Super Eagles because of a new generation that doesn't happen after the end of the Amokachi generation and a tough group. Nigeria finished last in their group behind Sweden, England and Argentina.
In 2006, they were edged out by Angola in the World Cup qualifiers in Germany. Stay tuned as we are going to share some information about his playing style.
Gifted with good technique and speed, he is regarded as one of the best dribblers in history. In addition, he was also an expert in long-distance shots and set pieces. He was unbeatable in one-on-one situations, unpredictable in snatching the game away with vertical acceleration as well as with an outside volley in favor of the attackers. He was always outside the box, even though he had a clear concept of collective play.
Jay-Jay Okocha is considered to be one of the greatest football players in the history of Nigerian and African football, who amazed football fans in Europe for many years with his great technique and dribbling skills.
Related Article:Lothar Matthaus Biography
As an attacking midfielder, Jay-Jay Okocha has scored many goals during his professional football careers and had many goal celebrations, but the one that we can never forget was “The Leg-Up” goal celebration in which he jerked his leg up behind his back constantly.
After retiring from football, it was announced on February 2015 that the Delta State Football Association has elected Jay-Jay Okocha as their chairman. In the elections that took place, Okocha was able to take 26 of 27 votes to his name.
He has also stated several times that he has no plans of becoming a football coach and rather wants to become the president of the Nigerian Football Federation one day.
In this section of
Jay-Jay Okocha biography
, we will take a look at his personal life and share some stories of
Jay-Jay Okocha life story
Jay-Jay Okocha religion
. Stay tuned.
Related Article:Samuel Eto'o Biography
Okocha is a descendant of the Anioma tribe, a sub-group of the Igbo ethnic derivative.
During his time at Fenerbahçe, Okocha became a Turkish citizen and was given the name Muhammet Yavuz. This was interpreted by many to mean that he had converted to Islam. It was later revealed that he remained a Christian.
He is the uncle of Alex Iwobi, who is a footballer currently playing for Everton in English Premier League.
Jay-Jay Okocha has established a charity foundation in his home country of Nigeria named “Jay-Jay Okocha Foundation”. The primary goal of the Okocha Foundation is about using football to increase awareness of the strategic value of schooling, peace and cohesion for Nigeria's economic development.
The Foundation will consciously work towards identifying promising, young yet impoverished footballers in various regions around Nigeria with the goal of creating a totem pole for these kids to be fostered and well trained.
It was announced in June 2019 that Okocha was being charged with suspected money laundering in Scotland. It was reported that the retired Nigerian international footballer was taken before a court in Aberdeen on suspected money laundering allegations.
He was also believed to face charges related to the suspected purchase, usage and storage of illegal property and other charges relating to the alleged secrecy, disguising, conversion and transfer of criminal property.
In this section of Jay-Jay Okocha biography, we will take a look at his career stats both on the club and international level.
During his 18-years career between 1990 and 2008, Okocha has played a total of 491 matches and scored 101 goals. He has also provided 52 assists to his teammates as a club level footballer.
He has also won 73 caps for Nigerian national team between 1993 and 2006, where he scored 14 goals. He scored his first international goal on 3 July 1993 against Algeria in a 1994 World Cup qualifier. His last international goal was scored in 2006 World Cup qualifier against Angola.
Related Article:Roberto Baggio Biography
At club level, Okocha has won many titles including Prime Minister's Cup and Ataturk Cup with Fenerbahce, Trophée des Champions and UEFA Intertoto Cup with PSG Football League Championship play-offs with Hull City.
With Nigeria national team, Okocha was champions of Africa Cup of Nations in 1994, runner-ups in 2000 and third-placed in 2002, 2004 and 2006. He has also won Afro-Asian Cup of Nations and 1996 Summer Olympics.
He has many individual awards and titles to his name including 1993 Goal of the Year (Germany), Nigerian Footballer of the Year, BBC African Footballer of the Year and Africa Cup of Nations Best Player among many others.