“I regret not winning the African Footballer of the year,” Jay Jay Okocha Laments

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Jay Jay Okocha is arguably the most talented footballer to come out of Nigeria but was not as privileged as most of his compatriots in terms of the calibre of clubs he played for, the team and individual honours he won before he retired.

But in all the misfortunes in the glorious 18-year football career of the Ex-Bolton Wanderers captain, his biggest regret is the inability to win the biggest individual honour in Africa football which is the CAF Africa footballer of the year award.

Out of the clubs Okocha played for across the world, the most prestigious of them was Paris Saint Germain and probably Fenerbahçe and Eintracht Frankfurt. However, where the Super Eagles legend really made a home for himself despite not winning a major club title was with Bolton Wanderers. He spent 4 years of his career with them without achieving much but high level of successful dribbles.

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Jay Jay Okocha playing for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League in the early 2000s.
Jay Jay Okocha playing for Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League in the early 2000s.

The 46-year-old football icon played over 475 matches in 4 different leagues across Europe – Premier League, German Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, and Turkey Super Lig, scoring over 100 goals in all competitions as an attacking midfielder and made over 52 assists.

The best individual award Okocha got in Africa was BBC Africa player of the year. He won the award 3 times in a row. He also won 7 Nigeria footballer of the year award during the prime of his career.

Despite how good Okocha was, he could not win any league title with any of the clubs he played for, not even with PSG. He also failed to win any major European title, not even Europa League. However, he did his best for Nigeria as he helped the country to win Gold in football in Atlanta 1998 Olympics. The football legend also won one Africa Cup of Nations and numerous bronze and silver medals for Nigeria.

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“And if I’m to say, I’ll say, I regret not winning the African Footballer of the year,” Okocha said in a chat with MasterCard.

“But of course, if you look back, there’s always a time that you say ‘Oh maybe you could’ve done a bit better than you did’.

“I thought I did enough to have won it because it was not a fluke that I won the BBC player of the Year three years in a row and not managed to win that Caf award, but I mean maybe it was not meant to be.

“Well, I think I don’t want to sound greedy, but I’ve had an amazing career, I never thought I would make it that big.”

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