Cult Heroes: Remembering Jay-Jay Okocha's outrageous performance vs Aston Villa

Jay Jay Okocha's performance for Bolton vs Aston Villa was mesmerising!

After eulogising the legendary Guti Hernandez in our opening part of the Cult Heroes series, we've decided to go a bit more rogue for our second addition.

Jay-Jay Okocha is a player a lot of younger football fans right now will no very little about, mainly due to the fact he never played for any of the established big teams in England.

Not that he didn't have the talent to do so, but the Nigerian maverick instead wowed us on a weekly basis while playing for Sam Allardyce's Bolton Wanderers side.

'Jay-Jay, so good they named him twice' was a familiar chant heard at the Reebok Stadium between 2002 and 2006.

There were times when Okocha really was that good. His skill moves were on par with Ronaldinho and Neymar, plus there was also a high degree of end product.

Now, we could simply whack a compilation of his greatest skills in here and wax lyrical about the array of feints, flicks and tricks that made great man one of the most iconic footballing figures of the early 2000s. 

But instead we're going to focus on one performance in particular, a 90-minute display that belongs in a football museum somewhere.

It was January 21, 2004 in the League Cup against Aston Villa, with Bolton destroying the midlands outfit 5-2 on their way to the final of the competition.

Okocha was the star of the show, scoring twice and prompting Allardyce after the game to label him as Bolton's greatest player ever - ahead of the legendary Nat Lofthouse.

Watch for yourself below and enjoy a player who emphasised the word 'entertainment'.


Genius, pure genius. The evening's camaraderie from Okocha commenced with a deft free-kick over the wall, followed by some silky displays of dribbling.

Around the 2:03 mark is where things start to get really spicy. Okocha feints to pass the ball square, but rolls the ball with his foot in the opposite direction, leaving the Villa player totally bemused and jockeying thin air.

It's that kind of simplistic brilliance that made Jay-Jay such a hero to us millennials.

What follows after is not showboating, but awesome accuracy and skill. Okocha's second free-kick goal of the evening is one where you have to take a second look to see if it was real.

Okocha blasts a free-kick

Instead of following the tried and tested route of up and over the wall from the angle, he goes near post with an absolute unstoppable tracer bullet of an effort. The term 'unique' springs to mind.

But the standout moment of the performance wasn't either of his two goals, not by a long shot.

At 3:55, Okocha manages to secure a free-kick for Bolton with a piece of skill that to the naked eye appears to defy the laws of physics.

With Juan Pablo Angel less than a foot away from him, the Nigerian somehow manages to flick the ball directly upward and over his head with what appears to be almost zero exertion.

Okocha flicks the ball over Angel

How does that work?! Magic from a footballing trailblazer.

Jay-Jay was one of those players where words don't quite do him justice, descriptors were not strong enough for what he delivered to loyal watchers of the Premier League.

The embodiment of everything good about the beautiful game, what a man!

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