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Ebonyi: Fans celebrate ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha at 50

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Jay-Jay’ Okocha

Some fans of former Super Eagles skipper, Augustine Okocha, popularly called, Jay-Jay, on Monday felicitated the midfield impressario as he clocked the quinquagenarian age of 50.

The dribbling wizard was born on Aug.14, 1973 in Enugu.

Okocha began his football career with Rangers International Club of Enugu and made his maiden appearance for the country at the U-20 AFCON in the island country of Mauritius, in January 1993.

A cross-section of his fans, who spoke with NAN in Abakaliki on Monday, said that Jay-Jay deserved to be celebrated for a life dedicated to the service of his fatherland.

They said that he brought joy to his fans and lovers of the round-leather game across the globe.

Emmanuel Uzor, the Chief Press Secretary to former Gov. David Umahi, described Jay-Jay as “easily Nigeria’s most celebrated player on national team honours”.

Uzor said: “Jay-Jay won gold at the I994 AFCON and the 1996 Olympic Games, a silver medal at AFCON 2000 and bronze medal at the 2002, 2004 and 2006 AFCONS.

“He was the mainstay of the squad which ensured the country’s first World Cup appearance in 1994 and a top-notch player in France 1998.”

A member of the Board of Ebonyi Football Association, Ikenna Odo, described Okocha as “a skills workshop”, who kept fans at the edge of their seats each time he was in action.

“Pa Jay was described by the late football icon, Pele, as one of the greatest footballers to have existed and his skills brought such global review to him.

“It is a fact that the country has not found his replacement upon his retirement in 2006, with the Super Eagles fortunes dropping since then,” he said.

Rangers Media Officer, Nobert Okolie, said the club would always celebrate Okocha for bringing the name of Rangers to international limelight.

“Young Jay-Jay, alongside his elder brother, Emma, made waves in Rangers before he left for greener pastures in August, 1990.

“The Rangers’ family will never forget his goal from the centre circle against the defunct African Continental Bank (ACB) of Lagos, shortly before he left the country,” Okolie said.

Another soccer enthusiast, Chiaka Ejeh, hailed Okocha for “planning his life well, unlike many retired footballers, who cannot make ends meet.

“Okocha wisely invested the fortunes from his active days and has remained financially and socially afloat.

“He is still very fit and never fails to dazzle fans, while featuring in exhibition games across the globe,” Ejeh, a teacher, said.

Sport

Napoli Sack Rudi Garcia, Announce Mazzarri As Replacement

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Serie A giants Napoli have announced the departure of coach Rudi Garcia after a poor spell and announced his successor with immediate effect

Reigning Serie A champions Napoli have announced the departure of French manager Rudi Garcia after a poor run of form that sees the Partenopei handing on to faint hopes of defending the Scudetto title won last season.

Napoli have only claimed one win in their last four matches in all competitions, trailing Serie A leaders Inter by 10 points while also trailing Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League by five points.

Osimhen gets new coach as Napoli reportedly appoint Walter Mazzarri to replace Rudi Garcia

With the Partenopei looking a lot worse than they did at this stage last season, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has chosen to act swiftly before things get out of hand.

The club chief revealed that Garcia had been relieved of his duty, after posting a message on social media platform X to announce the arrival of the Frenchman’s replacement.

Napoli announce Garcia successor
That replacement is a former Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri[url][/url], who was welcomed back to the club by De Laurentiis, who was also the owner during his last spell at the club.

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Wherever I went, people abused me every day, spat at me – David Beckham reveals how his 1998 World Cup red card still hurts

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Football icon, David Beckham has laid bare the lingering pain he felt he caused his family following the red card he received at the 1998 World Cup, saying his dismissal left him a “mess.”

This was revealed in a new Netflix documentary series entitled “Beckham”, set for release on Wednesday, October 4 in which the ex-Manchester, PSG and Real Madrid midfielder looks back on his career.

Beckham, now 48 and the co-owner of MLS franchise Inter Miami, was sent off for kicking the back of Diego Simeone’s leg during a last-16 World Cup tie against Argentina.

England went on to lose the match following a penalty shoot-out, with Beckham widely blamed for the defeat with rival fans repeatedly jeering him when in action for Manchester United during the following season.

In the documentary, his wife, Victoria Beckham said the continued abuse left her husband “absolutely clinically depressed” as the then 23-year-old tried to deal with the fallout alongside becoming a father for the first time in March 1999.

Beckham admitted the abuse “took a toll on me that I never knew myself”.

He said: “I wish there was a pill you could take which could erase certain memories. I made a stupid mistake. It changed my life.

“We were in America (on holiday after the World Cup), just about to have our first baby, and I thought, ‘we will be fine. In a day or two people will have forgotten’.”

“I don’t think I have ever talked about it, just because I can’t. I find it hard to talk through what I went through because it was so extreme.

“Wherever I went, I got abused every single day — to walk down the street and to see people look at you in a certain way, spit at you, abuse you, come up to your face and say some of the things they said, that is difficult.

“I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. I was a mess. I didn’t know what to do.”

“It brought a lot of attention that I would never wish on anyone, let alone my parents, and I can’t forgive myself for that.

“That is the tough part of what happened, because I was the one that made the mistake.

“It is only now that I am 47 years old, it is now that I beat myself up about it (still).”

Beckham’s wife also received abuse while attending football matches to support her husband.

“As horrible as it was to look up to Victoria in the stand (getting that abuse), it was the one thing which spurred me on,” he said.

But the 1998/99 season ended in triumph on the field, with a United side managed by Alex Ferguson winning a remarkable treble of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League, with the European triumph sealed by two stunning goals in stoppage time in the final against Bayern Munich.

Beckham’s former United and England team-mate Gary Neville, who is part of the producers of the documentary, recalled how the pair were “absolutely destroying teams” down the right flank for United.

Neville said: I was supporting him in a way which was to be fair, I would say I was a side dish really. Not the beef. I was the mustard on the side.”

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