Super Eagles: Not Everybody Was Comfortable With Okocha’s Excess Dribbles – Oliseh
Former captain of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, has disclosed that many of his national team contemporaries found it difficult playing alongside Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha.
Speaking on ElegbeteTV’s Athlete’s Podcast, Special Delivery with Emmanuel Babayaro and Matthew Edafe, Oliseh said Okocha was immensely gifted but his on-field excesses, particularly his ill-timed showboating, were difficult to cope with and led to a lot of instances where teammates, particularly those with defensive responsibilities, would lose their cool.
“With Jay-Jay, most people would say he was a difficult player to play with, as teammates, as defensive players. But I personally had a way; an understanding with Jay-Jay that made it easy for me to play with him,” said Oliseh, who made his Super Eagles debut in 1993, the same year as Okocha.
“I’ll share a story with you. We were playing and Jay-Jay was doing his normal thing and Nigerian fans were going crazy. In our team, as much as we disagreed, every player was a king in their position. We had match winners; most of the players could win games but if someone did something bad in the group, the defenders always tell me, ‘Sunday tell am o’.
“They knew I was the only one who could say to Jay-Jay ‘my man, release the ball’ and Jay-Jay would release [the ball]. There was one particular game, he was doing it and we lost the ball. And the ball was coming and Taribo [West] was going crazy.
“And he lost the ball one more time, and I told him ‘hey my man, I’m tired of running’. And the next time he went about dribbling and lost the ball, I left the man; I let the opponent past me and they almost scored. Taribo went crazy. He crossed ahead of me and I had to grab him. Don’t joke with Taribo. He wants to win. He’s fanatical about winning,” Oliseh said.