Austine “Jay-Jay” Okocha, a former Nigerian international, says he never won a major continental and world awards because he did not play as a striker.
YaahooJournalist reports that Jay-Jay Okocha who is regarded as one of the finest midfielders in the world during his prime never won the African Player of the Year or got a shot at the FIFA Best Player prize. Okocha’s closest to winning the African Player of the Year was in 1998 when he finished as runner-up to Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji. The former Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Bolton star, has, however, identified his playing position as a reason he never claimed any of the prizes.
According to the BBC African Player of the Year for 2004, playing as a striker instead of a midfielder would have increased his chances of getting these awards.
Jay-Jay Okocha claimed that strikers had more recognition than midfielders and as such his dribbling skills were not enough to unleash to get him the prizes.
His words: “In my time, it is true that the number 10 position was prestigious, but if you wanted to become the best in the world you had to play in 9,” Okocha told Afrique Sports.
“I am certain that if I had played higher, I would have won at least two gold balls, not African, but the gold ball which recognizes the best player in the world.
“It is not pride, but just an observation. I think I had the ability to play 9, however, I preferred the position of No. 10 because it allowed me to unleash all my creative genius.”