Nigeria’s Jay-Jay Okocha has his name in the sands of time as the former Super Eagles captain is undoubtedly one of football’s greatest showmen-from playing in his country home to the Bundesliga before shining his light further in the Premier League-Okocha, in a recent interview, spoke about his greatest score.
In an interview with Sky Sport, the football legend walked fans through the greatest goal of his career and a goal that Jurgen Klopp regards as the greatest the Bundesliga has ever seen. In 1993, the Nigerian international, playing for Eintracht Frankfurt, made his name as a player – and an entertainer; Okocha collected the ball from Uwe Bein with only Oliver Kahn to beat. He declines the opportunity to shoot with his left, shifting the ball to his right foot before leaving the Karlsruhe goalkeeper on the grass with an extravagant feint.
Time to shoot? No way, Okocha. He darts to the left, takes on another defender, cuts back to his right, then back to his left. There is a brief pause. Kahn has fully recovered. Slaven Bilic has charged forward from the start. The opportunity appears to have passed.
Okocha pulls back his left foot and fires the ball between two defenders and into the net, past Kahn.
Eintracht Frankfurt won the game, and their young substitute, Okocha, scored one of the most memorable goals in football history.
According to Jurgen Klopp, it is the greatest goal in Bundesliga history. Kahn, the magnificent German goalkeeper, claims he is still dizzy from the 1993 experience. Okocha settles for referring to it as his favourite goal of his long and illustrious career.
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“It just took longer than I expected,” he says.
“It wasn’t planned, you know. It was a counter-attack and when I got the ball, I had the goalkeeper in front of me, so I pretended as if I was going to shoot to get rid of him, but he didn’t want to go away.”
“As I was trying to dribble him, some defenders got back. All I was trying to do was to find that gap to take the shot and, fortunately, for me, I managed to get that,” Okocha explains.
“After a few seconds.”
It took Okocha eleven seconds from the time he received the ball until he put the game-winning goal in the net, not much at all. But enough to make watching it seem endless and enough to change a man’s career.
This was Jay-introduction Jay’s to the world; he was so successful they gave him two names. He had only recently made his Nigerian international debut. This career was in its infancy. This was his third goal in the top flight, which is remarkable given his chutzpah.
He had emerged from the depths of Germany’s third division as Eintracht Frankfurt’s second-year player. “It is a club that I’ll say gave me the first opportunities as a professional so it will always have a special place in my heart,” he says.
It was the first accurate look at a talent that would later on go on to amuse the football world for the next ten or so years. Okocha is best known in England for his time at Bolton Wanderers, where he excelled to the point where he could grace the Premier League with his extraordinary flair.
His exploits with Nigeria at the World Cup and his 1996 gold medal performance at the Olympics made him famous worldwide. But in Germany, that one goal is the one that resonates the most.