Is Jay-Jay Okocha the best Nigerian to play in the Premier League?

Is Jay-Jay Okocha the best Nigerian to play in the Premier League?
Jay Jay Okocha in action for Bolton Wanderers during their pre-season friendly game between Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers at Ninian Park, Cardiff. THIS PICTURE CAN ONLY BE USED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AN EDITORIAL FEATURE. NO WEBSITE/INTERNET USE UNLESS SITE IS REGISTERED WITH FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PREMIER LEAGUE.

The 48-year-old is one of Nigeria’s biggest football export, but is he the best Nigerian to play in the English top flight?

Last week, Super Eagles midfielder Frank Onyeka was in the news after he named ex-Nigeria captain Austin Jay-Jay Okocha as the best Nigerian to play in the Premier League.
Onyeka revealed this while answering fans’ questions in an interview with Premier League uncut. The Brentford midfielder cited Okocha’s skills on the ball as his reason for choosing Okocha as the best Nigerian export ever in the Premier League.

Onyeka even went further to call Okocha the best African dribbler the Premier League has ever seen, ranking him ahead of Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez.

Okocha’s influence
In fairness, it is hard to fault Onyeka’s choice. Okocha remains arguably the most talented player Nigeria has ever produced. He was famous for his trickery, dribbling skills, and doing things out of the ordinary. Although he never played for Europe’s traditional big clubs, Okocha was admired by fans and colleagues during his playing days.
Brazil and Barcelona legend Ronaldinho once said he was his favorite number ten. Ex-Liverpool and England star said he could watch the former Nigerian star all day.

Okocha was one of the many Nigerians (past and present) to play in the Premier League. Since its inception in 1992, the English top-flight has been home to many Nigerian stars.

For Okocha, he arrived in the league in 2002 after signing with Bolton. Okocha spent four years with the Trotters and was a cult hero at the club.

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In his first season at the club, he single-handedly saved Bolton from relegation. His free-kick against Middlesbrough still lives long in the memory of fans.

During his time in the Premier League, Okocha wowed fans with his tricks, skills, and dribbles. Players like Ray Parlour, Roy Keane, and Paul Scholes were on the receiving end of Okocha’s famous skills.

At the end of his four-year spell with Bolton, Okocha’s impact was felt. It was no surprise when he was named the best player to play at the Reebok/Macron Stadium.

It is also important to note that Okocha’s move to Bolton contributed to the popularity of Premier Lague in Nigeria. Nigerians became more invested in Bolton’s result. Okocha was so good that UK rapper, M.I.A, referenced him in the Blacqstarr remix of her hit song Paper Planes.

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