As you should know, Jay Jay Okocha is one of the most talented footballers out of Nigeria and Africa. With a career spanning about 18 years, Okocha played in top European teams during his days. This includes the likes of PSG, Hull City, and Bolton. He achieved different successes with these teams; not to mention his achievements with the National team. In this article, we look at Jay Jay Okocha’s biggest achievements in football.
1. 1996 Olympics
The 1996 Olympics win remains Nigeria’s biggest achievement in global football. In the Summer Olympics competition, Nigeria won the gold medal whilst beating heavyweights like Brazil and Argentina. Jay Jay Okocha was part of the team, wearing his trademark number 10 jersey and he was instrumental in the gold medal win.
In the quarterfinals, he helped Nigeria win over Mexico by scoring the first goal for the Super Eagles in the 20th minute. The game ended in a 2 – 0 victory. Okocha also helped in the semi-final game against Brazil by causing Roberto Carlos to score an own goal. His first goal in the competition came against Japan in the group stage from the penalty spot.
Winning an Olympics gold medal is one of the dreams of many top footballers which make it arguably Okocha’s biggest achievement.
2. 1994 AFCON
Two years before winning the Olympics Gold, Okocha won the AFCON with the Super Eagles. It was the only time the star player would win the continental football trophy. Okocha, who was signed to Frankfurt at the time, didn’t record any goal in the competition. However, he held his midfield position very well; playing as best as he could and making it difficult for any team to beat the Super Eagles.
For emphasis, Nigeria played the entire competition without losing any match. The final was against Zambia and Nigeria won the game by 2 goals to 1. Although it was the first time Okocha was winning the trophy, it was the second time Nigeria would win it.
3. AFCON Best Player 2004
Towards the end of his career, Okocha participated in the 2004 AFCON competition with Nigeria. Nigeria finished the competition as third-runners up. However, Okocha won the tournament’s best player. This is the first time he would win the AFCON best player. The competition was held in Tunisia.
Not only was Jay Jay awarded best player, he was also joint top scorer with 4 goals. Nigeria played in the group stage against Morocco, South Africa, and Benin. Okocha scored once against South Africa. In the knockout stage, he scored in every game. His free kick goal against Cameroon in the quarterfinals won’t be forgotten by Nigerians. Nigeria lost against Tunisia in the semi-finals on penalties.
4. FIFA World Cup All-Star Team 1998
The FIFA World Cup is the highest football competition in the world. The All-Star team consists of the best players in the tournament; or in the world if you must. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Jay Jay made it to the All-Star Team. Okocha was the only African player on the list.
The 1998 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team had other big names like Rivaldo, Zidane, Henry, Van Der Sar, and Ronaldo to name a few. Nigeria qualified top of the group but would lose against Denmark in the Round of 16. Despite not scoring any goal, Okocha was good enough to have his name included in the All-Star Team.
5. BBC African Footballer Of The Year (2003, 2004)
The BBC African Footballer of the year is awarded to the best player in Africa as voted by BBC radio listeners. While Okocha didn’t win the CAF African Footballer of the Year award, he won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award on two occasions and consecutively. He won the award in 2003 and 2004.
At the time, Okocha was signed to Bolton Wanderers in the EPL. He helped the team finish as runners up in the 2003/2004 Football League Cup competition in England. In 2003, he also won the BBC goal of the month in April for his goal against West Ham United. Okocha finished third-place in the CAF African Footballer of the Year.
6. EPL Player Of The Month (November 2003)
If you watch the EPL, you would know how prestigious the player of the month award is. In 2003 when Okocha won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award, he won the EPL Player of the Month in November as a Bolton Wanderers player.
That year, players like Paul Scholes, Pires, Gerrard, Lampard, Alan Shearer, and Van Nistelrooy had previously won the EPL player of the month. In November, Okocha won the player of the month award ahead of all these players.
7. Nigerian Player Of The Year
Jay Jay Okocha won the Nigerian player of the world on multiple occasions. He won the award for the first time in 1995 and was runner-up the next year. Okocha went on to win the award a second time in 1997 and then a third in 2000. The player won the award for a fourth time in 2002.
From 2002 to 2005, he won the award consecutively. In total, he won the Nigerian Player of the Year Award 7 times. Arguably, that should be the most for any Nigerian player in history.
During his playing days, Jay Jay brought joy to the faces of Nigerians. If he’s not scoring, he’s making assists and play making generally. He will forever remain one of Nigeria’s best players in history.