Sam Allardyce, England national team manager, says Nigerian Jay Jay Okocha is the captain he craves in his Three Lions squad.
He said this after his recent call-up of players for England’s friendly against Slovakia coming up at the weekend.
“Jay Jay Okocha,” Allardyce said when asked to name his best-ever captain.
“On and off the field he was the captain you looked for.
“In a multi-national side from all over the world he could speak four different languages, communicate very well with some of the players who couldn’t speak quite as good English.
“He sorted the odd scuffle out in the dressing room, talked to the players about how we had to go out and win. He’d take the manager’s instructions and apply them in the right way.
“Then there was outstanding ability on the field, leading by example and showing everybody he wasn’t a mercenary which was suggested in the beginning, that he’d only come for the money. He became an iconic figure at Bolton Wanderers.”
Ahead of the 2002-03 season, Allardyce signed 28- year old Okocha, who was leaving Paris Saint-Germain after four years, for £14 million.
The midfielder helped steer the team away from relegation with seven goals, including the team’s goal of the season in the vital league win against West Ham United.
His goal was voted Bolton’s best Premier League goal in a fans vote, in 2008.
The next season saw Okocha receive more responsibility as he was given the captain’s armband, following Guoni Bergsson’s retirement.
As captain, he led Bolton to their first cup final in nine years, as they finished runners-up to Middlesbrough FC in the 2004 Football League Cup.