Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho has criticized former Nigerian captain and midfield maestro Jay-Jay Okocha for his move to Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League.
Ronaldinho, who was Okocha’s teammate at Paris Saint-Germain, believes that the move to England hindered Okocha from fulfilling his full potential.
Ronaldinho spoke highly of Okocha’s skills, saying, “Jay Jay Okocha, wow!! That man made football listen to him. At training, we would watch him doing a freestyle; whatever he wanted to do, the ball would do it. But his problem is that he was too keen to move to England.”
Ronaldinho, at a point, was close to joining Manchester United before the former Brazil international decided to sign for Barcelona.
And according to Ronaldinho, Okocha would have been better off moving to Spain or Italy, where skilled players like him are highly valued.
Ronaldinho said: “In La Liga or Serie A, he would definitely get a chance to play for a big team because they love skilled players over there. In England, you stand no chance of playing for a big team if you’re that skilled. They think it’s not necessary.”
Ronaldinho : "Jay Jay Okocha, woow !! that man made football to listen to him. At Training we would watch him doing a freestyle, whatever he wanted the ball to do, the ball would do it. But his problem is that he was too keen to move to England. I didn't like the decision, at… pic.twitter.com/RPi8oC1hfr— Frank Khalid OBE (@FrankKhalidUK) March 25, 2023
Okocha spent four years at PSG before moving to Bolton in 2002. He made 84 appearances for the French side, scoring 12 goals. At Bolton, he made 124 appearances and helped the team qualify for European football for the first time.
Okocha’s move to England, not the best?
Okocha himself has admitted that his move to Bolton was poorly thought out.
In an interview with talkSPORT in 2021, he said, “I will say that it’s obvious that I didn’t really do my research before signing for Bolton. As a football person, football comes first, not the city, not the lifestyle, but one thing that’s clear is that the training ground was different, the attitude towards the games was different.”
Despite the criticism from Ronaldinho, Okocha remains one of the most respected and talented football players to come out of Africa. He had a nomadic 18-year career across Germany, Turkey, France, Qatar, and England and was regarded as an icon at Bolton, where he featured most in his club career.