BOLTON'S WORLD CUP MEMORIES: Nigeria hero who was so good they named him twice
8:00am Friday 20th June 2014 in Sport
EXPERIENCED World Cup midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha had three successive tournaments between 1994 and 2002 before joining Bolton Wanderers.
Sam Allardyce brought the skilful Nigerian to the Reebok on a free transfer and he went on to make 145 appearances in his four-year spell.
He captained the club in 2004, leading the Whites to the Carling Cup final scoring two stunning free-kicks in the home semi-final win over Aston Villa.
Okocha was an unused substitute in the first group game of the 1994 World Cup in USA in which Nigeria convincingly beat Bulgaria 3-0.
The number 10 did make an appearance as a substitute in both the defeat to Argentina and victory over Greece as his side progressed as group champions.
Okocha was handed his first start in the last 16 game against Italy which ended in a 2-1 defeat after extra-time.
Four years later, in France, the attacking midfielder played in both group victories over Spain and Bulgaria before being rested for the defeat to Paraguay as Nigeria progressed in pole position.
The African nation failed at the last 16 stage again as Okocha was recalled for their heavy 4-1 defeat to Denmark.
He was handed the captain’s armband for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan but could not inspire a repeat of the group success of previous tournaments.
Nigeria suffered defeats to Argentina and Sweden before holding England to a goalless draw to finish bottom of their group.
Okocha made his international debut in a 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast in 1994 before going on to make 75 appearances, scoring 14 goals.
After calling time on his international career as he left Bolton in 2006, he moved to Qatar SC then linked up with Wanderers’ ex-assistant manager Phil Brown at Hull City before finally hanging up his boots in 2007.
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