How Super Eagles Legend Okocha Became Africa's Most Expensive Player And Mentor To Ronaldinho In 1998
Austin Okocha was on this day back in 1998 signed to Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain shortly after the summer World Cup hosted by France.
The Super Eagles midfielder's performances at the Mundial created a leeway for him to sign for the French league side.
Jay Jay as he is fondly called put up a show at the World Cup in France despite Nigeria's inability of going beyond the second.
The mercurial midfielder single-handedly tore apart top teams that were contending for honours at the soccer fiesta.
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Nigeria were grouped alongside Spain, Bulgari and Paraguay as pundits predicted that the Spanish side, as well as the South Americans, will go through.
The former Africa champions were disadvantaged as the country were banned from participating in two AFCON tournaments after boycotting the 1996 competition hosted by South Africa.
However, against the odds, the Super Eagles side led by Bra Milutinovic qualified Nigerian out of the difficult group stages.
Okocha put up a one-man show against the talented Spanish side that had players packed with Real Madrid and Barcelona stars.
Despite going behind from Fernando Hierro's set-piece, Mutiu Adepoju headed Nigeria level but Raul Gonzales got the Spaniards back in front before Sunday Oliseh equalized with a screamer from 25 yards.
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Garba Lawal grabbed the winner as Okocha took over the show onwards to the point that players including current Spain's boss Luis Enrique was kicking the Nigerian magician.
In the game against Bulgaria, Nigeria needed only a win to go through to the round of 16 with a game to spare.
Okocha was involved in the goal as his trickish pass to Daniel Amokachi who laid a first-time pass to Victor Ikpeba to score the only goal of the game.
Having qualified into the next round, Nigeria's next game with Paraguay was a mere formality as players on the bench were given the opportunity to feature in the tournament but lost by 3-1.
The match against Denmark was a complete heartbreak for the Super Eagles as predictions made were all in favour of the African side.
The match ended in a disastrous 4-1 scoreline but Okocha played his heart out. From dribbling to passing and missing scoring chances, he was all over the place for the entire 90 minutes.
After the tournament, PSG paid £14million for Okocha according to Wikipedia, the highest amount paid for an African player at that time.
Okocha saw out his entire four-year contract at Parc des Princes but played and mentored the great Ronaldinho who went to become the world's best player in 2002.
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng had earlier reported that Austin Okocha's arrival to the Premier League in the summer of 2002 to Bolton Wanderers treated fans to a spectacle of skills in every game the Nigerian played, Soccernet.
The ex-Nigerian international's command of the ball drew many admirers and was even studied at a point in the University of Bolton.
Recently, Liverpool legend Peter Crounch posted on his social media handle after watching the impeccable skills of the former Super Eagles captain.
Source: Sports Brief News