There will never be another Jay Jay Okocha. Never. But that doesn’t stop skilful dribblers from dubbed ‘the next Okocha’.
When Okocha made his Super Eagles debut in 1993, he was quickly hailed as the raw Gold Nigeria ever had.
22 years later, the benchmark was changed: a new generation of skilful young midfielders would be dubbed the ‘new Okocha’, a tag that has proven bloody hard to live up to…
2015: Kelechi Nwakali
In 2015, Kelechi Nwakali was classy at the U17 World Cup as he captained Nigeria to success at the tournament. He was linked with Arsenal and FC Porto at the end of the Tournament but chose the Gunners. Loan spells at MVV Maastricht and Porto B didn’t aid his development.
He is currently a bench warmer at Huesca.
2016: Alex Iwobi
There was massive hype around Alex Iwobi during his time at Arsenal. But he struggled to replicate the form and was sold to Everton.
The story is still the same as he continues to be someone who doesn’t understand the position that suits him.
2017: Usman Mohammed
Mohammed was hyped as the next Okocha following his early days at FC Taraba.
He has become somewhat a journeyman with stints at União Madeira, Sarpsborg 08, Pyunik, Tambov and Shakhter Karagandy. The 27-year-old is currently picking up his wages at Hapoel Hadera.
2018: John Ogu
Following some interesting games for Nigeria, Ogu at his prime showed characteristics of Okocha. He pressed high and hardly gave the ball away. The former Hapoel Beer Sheva man rocketed home a screamer against Algeria. He is currently clubless.
2019: Joe Aribo
English born Aribo was handed the number 10 jersey during his international debut for Nigeria against Ukraine in 2019. He simply relished the moment with a sweet goal and further struck another beautiful strike in his second match for the Super Eagles.
A lot was expected from him and the player was tipped as the next Jay Jay Okocha. He has been lost since then for Nigeria.
2020: Samson Tijani
Tijani burst onto the scene in Lagos at a tender age, and his dribbling ability and low centre of gravity have drawn comparisons with Okocha.
He ended up at Red Bull Salzburg and was sent on loan to Hartberg and Leifering respectively.
2021: Chidera Ejuke
The way Ejuke dribbles with ease made supporters of Super Eagles dub him the New Jay Jay Okocha. He picks pockets and take on the opposition all the time.
Ejuke would be hoping to make this prophecy become a reality at next AFCON. He definitely has the talent.
Why have one Jay Jay Okocha when you can have two?