‘Leave Okocha alone, he inspired us to love football’ - Fans to ex-Nigeria’s Oliseh

Nigeria legends Sunday Oliseh and Jay-Jay Okocha.BackpagePix.

Nigeria legend Sunday Oliseh has come under heavy criticism from a section of fans after he claimed many of his teammates during their time with the Super Eagles needed help to stop Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha from dribbling too much.

The 47-year-old made the comments during an interview where he further said he was the only player the former Bolton Wanderers playmaker could listen to when his dribbling became too much for the rest of the squad.

“With Jay-Jay, most people would say he was a difficult player to play with, as teammates, as defensive players,” Oliseh said during the Athlete’s Podcast, Special Delivery with Emmanuel Babayaro and Matthew Edafe.

“But I personally had a way, an understanding with Jay-Jay that made it easy for me to play with him. There was one particular game; I’ll share a story with you. We were playing and Jay-Jay was doing his normal thing and Nigerian fans were going crazy.

“In our team, as much as we disagreed, every player was a king in their position. We had match winners – most of the players could win games but if someone did something bad in the group, the defenders always tell me, ‘Sunday tell am o’.

His comments have opened up a debate on social media with a section of fans disagreeing with him while others think the 48-year-old Okocha, who also played for Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, and Paris Saint-Germain, “entertained much more than he should.”

“Leave Jay-Jay alone... he inspired some of us to love football,” Oscar Owinga opened the debate in a post on the GOAL Africa Facebook page while Mbagnick Diop quipped: “Jay-Jay saw playing as a game like Brazilian, Jay-Jay was pure talent, for him dribbling was part of the game and he was right that’s there were spectators.”

Diop added: “One word Jay-Jay was a star that was meant to shine bright,” while Joseph Iyke Jr. wrote: “What an inspiration from Okocha, now look where it has brought us today,” while Oke John Obaruwe said: “Okocha remain the most skillful player that Africa has ever produced.”

Ben Chukwuma defended Okocha by saying: “He only gave us the entertainment we wanted,” while Akinmusere A Akinlolu said: “We enjoy him all the time like the dribbling should not stop.”

Meanwhile, Promise Alvin Usiomoifo is among the supporters who feel Okocha’s dribbling was too much and he was not a team player: “He [Okocha] entertained much more than he should,” explained Usiomoifo, adding that: “Football is a team game and not some entertainment concert. But yet, he made us love watching the Super Eagles play.”

Bobby Okutepa added: “Yes… Jay-Jay was a good dribbler but he dribbled when dribbling wasn’t needed,’ while Sylvester Nkpanam Jnr claimed Okocha’s style of play denied Nigeria good results: “I think that was his then mentality, otherwise the team Nigeria could have done more better if he was reserving his energies by passing the ball to teammates for assistance.”

Adeoye Ismaila Adetunji said: “Okocha was a very good player but his selfishness on the ball was too much and that is one of the reasons he didn’t even win the African player of the year award or any other major award.”

“Okocha is the typical South American footballer,” opined Kamau Oness adding: “He enjoyed every bit of his footwork, such players even today infuriate defenders when they surrender possession,” while Enow Egbe said: “Most of his dribbling was for fancy... very little end product.”

“He was an entertainer all his life, never serious about winning, always happier with the applause from the crowd, I never liked that kind of player,” opined Obekpa Awochi Stephen adding: “I don’t like unserious players, who only care about showing skills even when their teams are losing.”

Ikechukwu Edward wrapped up the debate by saying: “Sunday [Oliseh] always speak badly about Jay-Jay Okocha, and Emeka Sunday Frank echoed Edward’s sentiments: “Sunday [Oliseh] has always been jealous of Jay-Jay Okocha.”

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