New Leeds United manager, Sam Allardyce, has named Super Eagles legend, Austin Okocha, in the best 11 of players he managed in his illustrious coaching career.
Allardyce was in charge of Bolton Wanders from 1999 to 2007, where Okocha also played from 2002 to 2006, going on to captain the side and hero-worshipped by fans of the club.
Best associated with Bolton, Allardyce named Okocha in midfield alongside Fernando Hierro, Youri Djorkaeff and Garry Speed. A chunk of other players are also from Bolton as he chose Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal; Habib Beye, Ryan Nelsen, Phil Jones and Patrick Van Aanholt made up the defence line, while Jermain Defoe and Nicolas Anelka are his favourite strikers.
A two-time BBC African Footballer of The Year, seven-time winner of Nigerian Player of The Year, AFCON winner in 1994 and the tournament’s best player and top scorer 10 years later, Okocha is widely regarded as one of the greatest African stars to ever play the game.
At Bolton, the Nigerian quickly endeared himself as something of a cult hero in his first season after joining PSG, before taking the armband in his second. Under Allardyce he scored 18 goals from attacking midfield in 144 games, although he is surely best remembered for his dazzling array of skills that thrilled fans and neutrals alike.
“He’s so good they named him twice! The Bolton fans printed some t-shirts with that on. Even the non-Bolton supporters enjoyed watching Jay-Jay Okocha,” Allardyce was quoted as saying by Daily Mail.
Sam Allardyce made an unlikely return to the Premier League on Wednesday when the 68-year-old former England coach was hired by Leeds until the end of the season after the relegation-threatened club fired manager Javi Gracia.
Allardyce’s last coaching role was at West Bromwich Albion for the second half of the 2020-21 season, when he failed in his short-term mission to keep the team in the Premier League.