5 Facts to know about Okocha as he celebrates his 44th birthday

Below are some other facts you may never have come across about the former Nigerian number 10.

1. While he was at Fenerbahçe, Okocha became a Turkish citizen with the name Muhammet Yavuz. This was interpreted by many to mean that he had converted to Islam, which the Delta state football association chairman made little or no fuss about.

2. He was not the first to bear the name ‘Jay-Jay’ with his other names. His brothers, James and Emmanuel, who also played football, had been called by that nickname before they passed it on to their younger sibling. The name however stuck to the former Bolton FC captain, as he became more popular than his older siblings, who both dropped football much earlier than Okocha did.

3. Jay-Jay Okocha, while at Paris Saint Germain (PSG) in the French league, was a mentor to then youngster, Brazil’s Ronaldinho (who later went on to win the world football player of the year award on several occasions), a new recruit at the club.

4. The former Eintracht Frankfurt Midfield maestro was Africa’s most expensive player when he moved to French club, PSG, in 1998.

5. Okocha is arguably the most gifted player to miss out on the African Player of the year award after emerging as the runner up in 1998.

He remains the first player to ever win the BBC African Footballer of the year award, and the first to retain and win it more than once (2003, 2004).

To cap a fantastic 2004, the Enugu Rangers upstart scored the 1000th goal in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations, hosted by Tunisia.

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