For the younger generation today, the pride every Nigerian felt when the Super Eagles who were underdogs at the time they took down the highly-rated Brazilian national team is only imaginable.
Yes, when Nigeria beat Brazil 4-3 in the 1996 semi-finals of the Olympic Games – Atlanta ’96, eliminating a seemingly dominant force in football, every Nigerian must have felt an elation, the likes which we haven’t experienced since then. Celebrations echoed everywhere in the country, from the bars in the slums, to the mansions in the suburb, as the Super Eagles later went ahead to clinch the Gold medal. It was indeed a great time to be fan of the “boys in green.”
This moment is one of many on a long list of accomplishments in our sports’ history, but it has among many other reasons motivated wave upon waves of sports scouts to come here in search of the next athletic genius.
At the centre of it all were names like Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amuneke, Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Taribo West, Jay Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and more. These are a few of the football legends in the world today that are of Nigerian descent. Among such legends of the game however, one stands out as the most flashy, most popular, most skilled and highly accomplished among them; Jay-Jay Okocha.
Jay Jay Okocha was Nigeria's answer to Ronaldinho.
His hawk eyed vision for defence splitting passes is legendary and can't be matched.
His mazy dribbling skill set bothers on other worldly if not artistic.
He is that player Nigeria will FOREVER adore and immortalize pic.twitter.com/dOcicVngu3
— AURA❤️COOL (@TWEETORACLE) May 27, 2020
With an Olympic Gold medal, an African Nations cup, multiple AFCON bronze medals and numerous personal accolades under his belt, Jay Jay Okocha remains one of the most decorated soccer stars to emerge from Nigeria, second only to Nwankwo Kanu. People took to Twitter today to appreciate this fact and of course they had a lot to reminiscence over.
Others took time to appreciate his wizardry with the ball and just how adroit he was in his playing days.
Jay jay okocha is wizardry and legendary just watch till the end pic.twitter.com/2CrQeZMMO0
— UndisputeDChampioN (@JohnAshas) May 27, 2020
Of course, it wouldn’t be a complete discussion if they didn’t compare him to his mentee: Ronaldinho Gaucho
Greatest dribbler of all time👇🏿👇🏿
❤️ for Jay Jay Okocha
🔄 for Ronaldinho Gaucho pic.twitter.com/O0PlUNm725
— BIN LADEN (@SalihuAhmaddd) May 27, 2020
There were other comparisons to recent day players like Manchester United’s Frederico Rodrigues, former Chelsea Midfielder Mikel Obi, but these arguments were immediately put down, as the comparison didn’t hold water
It a very big insult to compare Jay Jay to Fred in all aspects https://t.co/gPH3VgEAQ0
— Isuazzy (@isuazzy) May 27, 2020
There were also other fun memories relieved like this one shared by Super Sports TV:
Here he is putting on a show back in 2016 👏 pic.twitter.com/Q4vml7eiCI
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) May 27, 2020
The brilliance of Nigerian athletes in the ’90s proved that sports truly does transcend national and continental borders. Take Hakeem Olajuwon for example, who is not only an NBA champion but was named a top 20 basketball player of all time, ranking 12th on the list.
The impact Jay Jay Okocha has had on the Nigerian sports scene can hardly be quantified. His skills on the soccer pitch no doubt paved the way for young aspiring Nigerian athletes and created the belief that even here in Nigeria a global sensation can be born.