Austin Jay Jay Okocha-an unsung hero
Jay Jay is arguably the best footballer ever from Nigeria. He is the most underrated player ever in the history of world football!!! No Nigerian or African living or dead displayed the same level of skills and techniques that Okocha gave to football. Okocha is one of the rare players who did in big matches what they would do on a training pitch. While at PSG in France, Brazil’s Ronadinho learnt so much from Okocha and he went on to display some of Okocha’s skills in big matches as well.
Okocha’s exploit at Bolton Wanderers are well documented and famous. For the Nigerian national team we are still looking for a replacement for the midfield tactician albeit a magician.
Okocha was a past winner of the BBC African footballer of the year. But Okocha was never recognised by CAF-The Confederation of African Football. This is a very serious indictment on CAF and the fact the Okocha is no longer active does not imply that CAF cannot make amends.
CAF must admit its error of judgment that Okocha never received the African Footballer of the Year award despite his popularity and contributions to the game in Africa and Europe. My advice to CAF is to use the World Cup in South Africa 2010 to make amends for this catastrophic error. There is nothing wrong if CAF institute an award or awards that will honour the likes of Okocha as part of the opening ceremony for the Mundial.
Even FIFA is not left out of this international scandal. If either David Beckham or Michael Owen has a quarter of Okocha’s skills and abilities, they would have won the award of World Footballers of the year at different times. It will remain one of the unsolved mysteries of this century that neither CAF nor FIFA gave Jay Jay Okocha the awards that he ought to have won, African and World Footballer of the year. Don’t ask me what year. Let them search their consciences.
That Liberian George Weah won the awards in the past is not enough for Africa. It shouldn’t be “symbolic” that an African had won it before. An African should win awards on merit.
Even the Nigerian sports establishments cannot be left out in this scandal. They didn’t do enough to presents Okocha’s peculiar case to the rest of the world. Austin Jay Jay Okocha remains a legend and should rank among the best 10 footballers of all time. I see him in the same rank as Maradona and Pele.