The Nigerian legend’s time in the English Premier League is often talked about with affection, but he is even more adored by those who saw him perform wonders in France.
Former PSG coach Philippe Bergeroo has hailed Austin Okocha as one of the most visionary players he ever saw, comparing the playmaker favourably with French genius, Michel Platini.
Platini is regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, winning the Ballon d’Or three times. He was a versatile, elegant, and intelligent offensive midfield playmaker, with a unique ability to read the game and bend the ball from set-pieces, attributes Okocha possessed in large doses.
Okocha spent four years at Paris Saint-Germain, having joined from Fenerbahce in a then-African transfer record fee of £14 million.
Success in the French capital came only in the shape of triumphs in the 1998 Trophée des Champions and the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup, with the Ligue 1 proving elusive.
The Nigerian midfield maestro departed the Parc des Princes and moved to Bolton Wanderers, where he became a club icon and a Premier League hero.
But Bergeroo, who managed PSG from March 1999 to December 2000 and witnessed Okocha at his peak, says there are not many players who combined skills and vision on the ball the way the former Super Eagles wizard did.
“Okocha was a good guy, the joy of living embodied, someone who had an exceptional peripheral vision, a bit like Platini,” Bergeroo told PlanetePSG.
“He knew where all the players were. In taking visual information, he was exceptional.
“In the end, our relationships deteriorated. But I’m glad I had a player like that.”
During his four-year stint with PSG, Okocha played 84 matches and scored 12 goals.