My Dream Team
Nigerian superstar Jay-Jay Okocha shares with us his star-studded dream team of world-renowned footballers he was privileged to share the pitch with.
Jay-Jay Okocha – so good they named him twice! The African legend went to Germany as a 17-year-old without a club, but impressed during a trial at third division side Borussia Neunkirchen. Two years later he joined Eintracht Frankfurt, where he became famous for his trickery and creative flair. Okocha, who was part of Nigeria’s team that won the 1996 Olympics, also played for the likes of Fenerbahce, Paris Saint-Germain, Bolton Wanderers, Qatar SC and Hull City. Here the former Super Eagles star, who now works as an ambassador for the Bundesliga, picks a hugely impressive Dream Team of the best players he ever played with. 1 Goalkeeper: Uli Stein
Uli was not just a good goalkeeper, but a very strong personality. He was quite old already when I met him, but he left a very good impression because he had a great character and was also looking after the young guys in our Eintracht Frankfurt team. He was a big role model for me.
2 Right-back: Taribo West
I played with him for Nigeria. He was the kind of player who always gave 200%. He always had this attitude of being the best at any time, and that’s why he has to be in my team.
3 Left-back: Celestine Babayaro
Celestine had a special talent. He already had his breakthrough at Anderlecht and Chelsea at a very young age, which I always admired. He had a natural-born talent to defend, but he also scored many goals. He had this special drive of going forward, which impressed me a lot in our time together in the national team.
4 Centre-back: Uche Okechukwu
Uche was a very strong defender, but good with the ball as well.
His positional play was always excellent. I think he stayed too long in Turkey and never reached his personal best. In a way it was good because it allowed me to play with him at Fenerbahce and the national team, but I think he was not ambitious enough. He could have gone even further with his great talent as a defender.
5 Centre-back: Manfred Binz
“Manni” – as they called him in Germany – was a true leader and role model when I came to Frankfurt. He ate, slept and lived football. He completely dedicated his life to the game, even measuring the amount of water he drank every day and he had a special diet plan as well. I learned a lot from him with regards to the discipline you need at a professional level.
6 Defensive midfield: Sunday Oliseh
Sunday was a very solid and physically strong player. Because of him I had the freedom to attack in the Nigerian team. He took care of at least two players so that I could move wide and show my brilliant moves without getting worried about defending.
7 Right-midfield: Jay-JJayJ OkOkochah
I have to put myself in the team because Jay-Jay is the best player that all the others in the team have ever played with (laughs).
8 Left-midfield: Ronaldinho
There is not much to say about him … we all know he was a genius on the ball. He is one of the best players that ever played football. It was a privilege to play with the young Ronaldinho at PSG, something which still makes me feel very humble.
9 Forward: Anthony Yeboah
He was a very, very strong striker I played with at Frankfurt, who was good on the ball, good in the air and one of the most complete strikers I have ever seen. He had all the attributes which you would expect from a striker. Ask any defender, they had nightmares of Anthony and could never rest during a game against him.
10 Attacking midfield: Uwe Bein
Uwe had the best left foot I have ever seen. He had such good vision and a great understanding of the game. He made every player better, assisting us on and off the pitch, and he had a very selfless character. He was another great role model for me at Frankfurt.
11 Forward: Rashidi Yekini
Rashidi is still the highest goalscorer Nigeria ever had. He was another great striker, with a very strong shot and was a very clinical finisher.