The former PSG midfielder is often regarded as one of Africa’s most talented superstar and a young Super Eagles striker as cited him as inspiration when growing up
Bordeaux striker Josh Maja has admitted that, though he was born and raised in England, Nigerian legend Austin Jay Jay Okocha is a role model for him and for many players who are not from the West African nation.
During a largely incredible career that saw him star in Germany, Turkey, France, and England, Okocha wowed fans with his seemingly endless bag of tricks, his ability to glide past defenders, and his spectacular long-range strikes.
The football wizard became a cult hero during a four-year stint at Bolton Wanderers, and Maja says he saw and felt the influence of the 1994 AFCON winner while growing on the streets of London.
“Okocha was a big icon and an example to many players, even outside of Nigeria,” Maja told BBC Sports Africa.
“He had lots of qualities and performed well in the Premier League.”
The 21-year-old striker could have represented his country of birth, England, at the international level, but he opted to play instead for the Super Eagles.
Maja made his debut last year in a 2–2 friendly against Ukraine, replacing Victor Osimhen in added time, and the youngster confesses it was a dream come true.
“Playing on an international stage was a dream of mine. To represent my country and make my family proud,” he insisted.
“I’m familiar with my roots. I went to Nigeria a few times when I was young, and in the next few years, I’ll be going again.”
Maja is yet to open his goals account for Nigeria, but he has found the back of the net seven times in 26 appearances for Bordeaux.