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Jay-Jay Okocha Celebrates His 45th Birthday Today. See His Then Vs Now Photos


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Augustine Azuka “Jay-Jay” Okocha (Born 14 August 1973) is a Nigerian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder.

A quick and skillful playmaker, who is widely regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation and one of the greatest African players of all time, Okocha was known for his confidence with the ball,technique, creativity, and dribbling skills, as well as his use of feints, in particular the stepover.
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Due to his skill, he was described as being ‘so good that they named him twice’ (a line immortalised in a terrace chant while Okocha played for Bolton Wanderers).

He is a dual Nigerian-Turkish citizen, having acquired Turkish citizenship as “Muhammet Yavuz” while playing for Süper Lig team Fenerbahçe.

Okocha made his official debut for Nigeria in their 2–1 1994 FIFA World Cup Qualifier away loss against Ivory Coast in May 1993.It was not until his second cap and home debut that he became a favourite with the Nigerian supporters. With Nigeria trailing 1–0 against Algeria, in a match they needed to win, he scored from a direct free kick to equalise, before helping the team to a 4–1 win, eventually securing qualification to their first World Cup. In 1994, he was a member of both the victorious 1994 African Cup of Nations squad and the World Cup squad who made it to the second round before they lost in a dramatic match against eventual runners-up Italy.

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In 1996, Okocha became a key member of an arguably more successful Nigerian side, their Olympic gold winning side at the Atlanta Games, later nicknamed the Dream Team by the Nigerian press after the USA 1992 Olympic gold winning basketball team. In the 1998 FIFA World Cup hosted by France, Okocha played for a disappointing Super Eagles side who failed to live up to expectations again reaching the round of 16, albeit with less impressive performances save for their 3–2 opening win against Spain. This did not destroy interest in Okocha, who had entertained fans with his trademark skills and dribbles and went on to be named in the squad of the tournament.

Okocha again joined the Super Eagles in the 2000 African Cup of Nations co-hosted with Ghana. He scored three goals in the tournament, two in the opening game against Tunisia, and then given a standing ovation by the nearly 60,000 attendance when he left the field.

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He made a return to the Super Eagles in his testimonial against an African select side in Warri. The game featured former players Daniel Amokachi, Alloysius Agu, John Fashanu, Benjani and Sulley Muntari. Nigeria won the game 2–1 with Okocha scoring the winning goal after appearing for the side in the second half.

In March 2004, he was named one of the top 125 living footballers by Pelé.

Okocha is from Anioma, a subgroup of Igbo ethnic derivative. His older brother Emmanuel is also a former footballer who played for the Nigerian national team. He has a nephew, Alex Iwobi, who plays for Arsenal and Nigeria.

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