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Jay-Jay Okocha ranked by FourFourTwo magazine as 33rd best foreigner in the English Premier League

They say football is a matter of opinions and in the opinion of FourFourTwo magazine, Nigerian legend Jay-Okocha, who captained Bolton during his spell in England, is the 33rd best foreigner to grace the English game.

This is how the magazine described their choice:

Okocha’s time at Bolton actually didn’t begin well: he was subbed at half time in a 4-1 loss at Fulham on his debut and didn’t start another game for three months. But the Nigerian had shown his quality months earlier at the 2002 World Cup and soon he would display those talents in a Bolton shirt, having arrived on a free transfer from PSG. If it seemed a surprising move, the 28-year-old was actually so keen to join the Trotters that he got in his car and drove all the way from Paris to get the deal done.

Okocha almost single-handedly rescued Bolton from relegation trouble in that first season, netting crucial long-range goals and dazzling the Premier League with a string of outrageous skills and showboats that embarrassed a host of opponents. For half a season, he wasn’t far from being the best player in the league – even at Bolton.

He’d stay for a total of four years, assuming the role of captain and guiding Wanderers into Europe for the first time in their history, establishing himself as one of the club’s greatest ever players.

Former Super Eagles striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni was Number 76.
Yakubu’s hopscotching career – which encompassed stints at Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn, and nigh on 100 goals – often had him painted of something as a hired gun. But for those inclined to see things another way, such mid-table journeymanship has a romantic element to it, too. And besides, even as a hired gun, Yakubu rarely did anything less than a brutally efficient job.

A desperately unfortunate knee ligament injury at Everton interrupted his momentum while he was in arguably the best form of his career, and he returned looking a shell of the player he was, many fearing he’d never recover from his pace having seemingly been expunged overnight. But on he battled, dropping down a division with Leicester before returning in 2011/12 with 17 goals for a doomed, desperate Blackburn side during a heartening last hurrah in the top flight. 

Another Nigerian legend Nwankwo Kanu comes in at 78.

“Kanu is a magician,” explained former Arsenal team mate Gilberto, “and sometimes I’m not sure he knows what he’s going to do next with the ball.”

The Nigerian with the telescopic legs was a bewitching force in the Gunners team during the early noughties, often teeing up Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp with mind-boggling dummies and flicks. Many of his own Arsenal goals were also sublime, including a back-heeled volley at Middlesbrough in 1999 and a stupendous hat-trick at Stamford Bridge in his side’s incredible 3-2 win.

Kanu demonstrated that there was life after Arsenal, too, netting the Wembley winner to help Portsmouth win the FA Cup in 2008.

The list is topped by Cristiano Ronaldo, followed by Thierry Henry and Eric Cantona.

 

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