A former captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Austin Jay Jay Okocha has admitted that he regrets not bagging a CAF African Footballer of the Year award to his trophy shelf during his playing days.
He made this revelation while speaking during a question and answer session with media personality, Toke Makinwa earlier today.
Jay Jay Okocha said; “And if I’m to say, I’ll say, I regret not winning the African Footballer of the year,” he said.
“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 BBC player of the year three years in a row and not manage 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” he concluded.
Augustine Azuka “Jay-Jay” Okocha was born in Enugu, Enugu State. His parents lived in Iwo Local Government, Osun State, Nigeria.
The name Jay-Jay was passed down from his elder brother James, who started playing football first.
His immediate elder brother, Emmanuel was also called Emma Jay-jay, but the name stuck with Okocha instead.
He began playing football on the streets just like many other football stars, usually with a makeshift ball.
In his time at the club, he produced many spectacular displays including one where he rounded off and scored a goal, against experienced Nigerian goalkeeper Willy Okpara in a match against BCC Lions.
Later that year, he went on holiday to West Germany, the country that had just won the 1990 FIFA World Cup, so he could watch German league football.
His friend Binebi Numa was playing in the Third Division for Borussia Neunkirchen, and one-morning Okocha accompanied Numa to training, where he asked to join in.
The Neunkirchen coach was impressed with Okocha’s skills and invited him back the next day before offering him a contract.
A year later, he joined 1. FC Saarbrücken, but stayed only a few months with the 2. Bundesliga side before a move to the 1. Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Jay Jay 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 favorite 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 equalize, 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.
Jay Jay Okocha again joined the Super Eagles in the 2000 African Cup of Nations co-hosted by 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.
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.