Today marks 20 years since Sam Allardyce managed to bring Jay Jay Okocha to Wanderers from Paris Saint-Germain.

Okocha quickly became a popular figure at the UniBol, dazzling supporters with his flair, and is regarded as one of the best African players to grace the Premier League.

He was one of several high players to make the move to the North West under Allardyce along with the likes of Ivan Campo and Youri Djorkaeff.

Big Sam has recalled how the move came about and admits he think the Whites had “any real chance” of landing his signature.

"We gave it a shot, not thinking we had any real chance. But if you don’t ask you don’t get,” he told The Athletic.

“We flew out to Paris before the World Cup. We never really got any real response in that meeting, but to our surprise after the World Cup, and after a long conversation, we went back out there and struck a deal in Charles de Gaulle airport.

“The main object was for Jay-Jay to play in the Premier League. Players were coming from all over the world in the early 2000s, because it was clearly the best place to be, the best place to play football and the best place to get paid as well.

"He wanted to broaden his experience in football — and in culture, if you like. He’d experienced the German way, then Turkey, then France then he wanted to come to England.”

Okocha went on to make 144 appearances during a memorable four-year spell at Wanderers, scoring 18 goals.

He added: “Nobody would have thought I would fit with his philosophy, but we understood each other.

“I managed to convince him that if we got the balance right, it could work for us.”

Okocha and Allardyce returned to the UniBol last season for Gethin Jones’ MND appeal and recreated their famous goal celebration from 2003.

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