Some fans of former Super Eagles skipper, Augustine Okocha, popularly called Jay-Jay, on Monday felicitated the midfield impressario as he clocked the quinquagenarian age of 50.
The dribbling wizard was born on August 14, 1973 in Enugu.
Okocha began his football career with Rangers International Club of Enugu and made his maiden appearance for the country at the U-20 AFCON in the island country of Mauritius, in January 1993.
A cross-section of his fans, who spoke in Abakaliki on Monday, said that Jay-Jay deserved to be celebrated for a life dedicated to the service of his fatherland.
They said that he brought joy to his fans and lovers of the round-leather game across the globe.
Emmanuel Uzor, the Chief Press Secretary to former Gov. David Umahi, described Jay-Jay as “easily Nigeria’s most celebrated player on national team honours”.
Uzor said: “Jay-Jay won gold at the I994 AFCON and the 1996 Olympic Games, a silver medal at AFCON 2000 and bronze medal at the 2002, 2004 and 2006 AFCONS.
“He was the mainstay of the squad which ensured the country’s first World Cup appearance in 1994 and a top-notch player in France 1998.”
A member of the Board of Ebonyi Football Association, Ikenna Odo, described Okocha as “a skills workshop”, who kept fans at the edge of their seats each time he was in action.
“Pa Jay was described by the late football icon, Pele, as one of the greatest footballers to have existed and his skills brought such global review to him.
“It is a fact that the country has not found his replacement upon his retirement in 2006, with the Super Eagles fortunes dropping since then,” he said.
Rangers Media Officer, Nobert Okolie, said the club would always celebrate Okocha for bringing the name of Rangers to international limelight.
“Young Jay-Jay, alongside his elder brother, Emma, made waves in Rangers before he left for greener pastures in August, 1990.
“The Rangers’ family will never forget his goal from the centre circle against the defunct African Continental Bank (ACB) of Lagos, shortly before he left the country,” Okolie said.
Another soccer enthusiast, Chiaka Ejeh, hailed Okocha for “planning his life well, unlike many retired footballers, who cannot make ends meet”.
“Okocha wisely invested the fortunes from his active days and has remained financially and socially afloat.
“He is still very fit and never fails to dazzle fans, while featuring in exhibition games across the globe,” Ejeh, a teacher, said.Follow us on social media