The Nigerian icon has admitted he didn’t think Premier League move through before leaving Paris Saint-Germain in 2002.
Former Nigeria and Bolton Wanderers icon Austin Jay-Jay Okocha has reflected on his time with Bolton Wanderers in the 2000s, revealing he didn’t consider the implications of what he was getting into when he moved to Lancashire at the time.
Okocha joined the then-Premier League side on a free transfer in the summer of 2002 after four years and 84 appearances with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.
He became a cult hero of the Trotters in his time there, initially helping the side to avoid top flight relegation in his debut season before playing a huge role in the club’s first-ever European sojourn in the UEFA Cup.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the retired Super Eagle disclosed he swapped clubs despite failing to study Bolton in advance to know what to expect in England.
“I will say that it’s obvious that I didn’t do my research before signing for Bolton,” Okocha told talkSPORT Breakfast.
“As a football person, football comes first, not the city, not the lifestyle, but one thing that’s clear is that the training ground was different, the attitude towards the games was different.”
Okocha enjoyed a good connection with Sam Allardyce, the man who brought him to the club, and the Nigerian gave a bit of insight into their relationship.
“The mentality, the football style was difficult. It took me a while to understand what Sam’s philosophy was, but once I understood it, it was a bit easier then,” the two-time BBC African Footballer of the Year said.
“After a while, I realized that it’s not that kind of long-ball person, but it was all he had then, the players that he had then he can only play direct football with them because they can’t out-possess the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea or Man United, so he was playing to his strengths.
“But then when we came in and when he started bringing players with better quality in his squad, we started playing a bit more possession football.”
Okocha made 124 appearances for Bolton in his four-year spell in North West England, guiding them to a League Cup final in 2004 and the Round of 32 in the UEFA Cup.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
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