Former Super Eagles captain and Nigerian football legend, Austin Jayjay Okocha’s performance against Tottenham has been named one of the best 50 in the Premier League era.
In a list compiled by The Athletic writers from 309,949 options, the best 50 performances in the last 30 years of the Premier League era sees Okocha’s performance against Tottenham in November 2003 stand at number 47.
The only goal of the game came from former Bolton Wanderers captain, Kevin Nolan but the finest performance of the day, and one of the best of many years to come was Okocha’s sizzling display on the day.
Acquired from PSG, Okocha hit the ground running at Bolton, and gave the club a new story alongside other great professionals like Nolan, Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro, Jared Borgetti, Youri Djorkaeff etc.
Bolton manager at the time, Sam Allardyce recalled the performance as the moment the London teams began to see Bolton as a good team.
“That was the first time the London boys started talking about what a good team we were,” Allardyce tells The Athletic.
“They suddenly realised the quality of player we had.”
Okocha joined Bolton at 28, years after he had starred for the Super Eagles and Dream Team at USA 94’ World Cup and Atlanta 96’ Olympics. It also luckily became arguably Okocha’s best spell at any club.
“We flew out to Paris before the World Cup,” says Allardyce. “We never really got any real response in that meeting, but to our surprise after the World Cup, and after a long conversation, we went back out there and struck a deal in Charles de Gaulle airport,”
“The main object was for Jay-Jay to play in the Premier League,”
“Players were coming from all over the world in the early 2000s, because it was clearly the best place to be, the best place to play football and the best place to get paid as well. He wanted to broaden his experience in football — and in culture, if you like. He’d experienced the German way, then Turkey, then France then he wanted to come to England.”
“Nobody would have thought I would fit with his philosophy, but we understood each other,” said Okocha. “I managed to convince him that if we got the balance right, it could work for us. When I first got there I was like, ‘Wow’. His philosophy was the quickest route to goal, and he doesn’t like players fannying (note: Okocha really did say ‘fannying’) around at the back. It gave him a heart attack.”
Okocha left Bolton as one of the greatest African exports in the history of the Premier League.