Okocha never won the continent’s best player award despite being one of the most gifted footballers of his generation
Former Barcelona forward Samuel Eto’o is convinced that Nigerian legend Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha was as talented and magical as Brazilian great Ronaldinho Gaucho.
But Eto’o is displeased that the ex-Super Eagles captain did not receive as many accolades during his career as his former Barcelona teammate.
Often regarded as one of the most gifted number 10s the football world has ever seen, Okocha enjoyed a successful career spanning almost two decades.
Okocha won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1994 with the Super Eagles, and he was also instrumental as Nigeria won Africa’s first Olympic gold at Atlanta ’96.
In 2004, the former Bolton Wanderers skipper made Pele’s list of 125 living legends of the aport, one of only four African players — alongside Abedi Pele, George Weah, and Roger Milla — to make the cut.
While the other three Africans on that list are recipients of the CAF African Footballer of the Year award, Okocha never clinched the continent’s finest individual prize, coming close on several occasions.
Okocha even mentored Ronaldinho when the Brazilian was finding his feet in European football at French side PSG.
But while Ronaldinho went on to win two FIFA World Player of the Year awards and a Ballon d’Or, Okocha never came close to claiming any of those global honours before calling time on his career in 2008.
And President of the Cameroon FA Eto’o insists it is ridiculous that Okocha failed to receive the recognition his wizardry deserved.
“It’s the injustice of world football,” Eto’o said, as per Onvoitout.
“What we saw Ronaldinho do a few years ago, Jay-Jay (Okocha) had done 10 or 15 years before and he never had the recognition of others. And that’s what happens when it comes to Africa.”
At the latter stages of his brilliant career, Okocha was voted BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2003 and 2004.
And he claimed both the Best Player and Golden Boot awards at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations, where the Super Eagles only finished in third place.
The dribbling wizard was in 2017 named the best player to ever play for Bolton Wanderers Football Club at the Reebok/Macron Stadium.