The retired Nigerian international tried his hands at making music before going on to enjoy a legendary career in football
Super Eagles legend Austin JJ Okocha will always be remembered as one of the greatest footballers from Africa, following his exploits in Germany, Turkey, France, England, and Qatar.
In the early days of his career, however, Austin Okocha believed he was as gifted with a microphone in the studio as he was with a ball between his feet.
Okocha arrived in Germany as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 1990 and the youngster had no problem making his impact felt on the football pitch.
It took the midfield maestro only two years to move from the German Third Division playing for Borussia Neunkirchen to the Bundesliga representing Eintracht Frankfurt.
With his football career on the fast lane, Okocha entered the studio in 1994 to produce his first song.
Titled ‘I I Am Am JJ‘, the single is a three-minute-twenty-second-long, instrument-heavy song produced in Frankfurt by Eurodance.
Okocha rapped entirely in English mixed with pidgin, danced, and played the ball around, sometimes with some kids, as singers backed him up with a nice melody.
Still, the song was surprisingly popular among the mostly-German audience, reaching number four on that country’s rap chart.
However, the mild success the song enjoyed did not inspire Okocha to return to the studio to make another or pursue a career in music. Football won.
Okocha’s football legacy
It is not difficult to see why Okocha chose football over music.
In the same year he released ‘I Am JJ’, Okocha lifted the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles and featured prominently as Nigeria qualified for and made it to the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup.
Two years later, Okocha was a key member of the Nigeria U23 team that won Africa’s first football gold medal at the Olympic Games.
After leaving Frankfurt, Okocha went on to play for Fenerbahce, PSG, Bolton Wanderers, Qatar SC, and Hull City, during which time he sealed his place among the continent’s greatest-ever players.
Okocha retired from active football in 2008 ending a successful, near-two-decade-long career during which he was named BBC African Footballer of the Year twice.