The former Bolton Wanderers captain was an inspiration to many during his playing days, and a Rangers star has spoken highly of the Nigerian hero
Rangers defender Calvin Bassey has confessed that Nigerian legend Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha was his Super Eagles role model when he was growing up as a kid.
Okocha wowed many with his dribbles, tricks, and stunning goals during a brilliant, decade-and-half-long career that saw him feature for Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, Paris St-Germain, and Bolton Wanderers, among others.
Regarded as one of the greatest African footballers in history, Okocha is held in high esteem by Brazil great Ronaldinho Gaucho and ex-Gunner Mesut Ozil, who recently met and honoured the Nigerian.
Gers’ ace Bassey has added his name to the long list of stars who watched and adored the former Nigerian International back in the day.
The Leicester City academy product is yet to make his Super Eagles debut despite earning his first call-up in October. But Bassey hopes to join the team for the Afcon next month, and he is banking on his energy, physicality, and Okocha-like confidence on the ball to impress the national team handler.
“There is no doubt we have plenty of quality in the national team. Joe Aribo plays with me, and he knows what I can do,” the 21-year-old told the Super Eagles media.
“I will bring energy and physicality to the Eagles’ defence and will also bring a bit of doggedness to African football. I know it will be physical, but I think that will play to my strengths.
“Growing up and watching the Super Eagles, Jay Jay Okocha was my role model.
“He was so confident on the ball and that’s something I love to emulate. He was not scared to take on players and express himself and he was a joy to watch.”
Naturally a left fullback, Bassey has performed excellently as a central defender for Rangers in recent weeks.
The youngster’s solid contribution at the heart of the defence for the Scottish champions has helped new manager Gio van Bronckhorst to four wins and one draw in his first five games in charge.