Football's Cult Heroes / Episode four: Jay-Jay Okocha

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Episode notes

In the summer of 2002, Bolton manager Sam Allardyce was once again scouring the market for new players.

Without a big budget, being resourceful had become second nature to Big Sam, often using his powers of persuasion to lure players to the Reebok Stadium.

Nigeria superstar Jay-Jay Okocha was available on a free transfer after dazzling in leagues across Europe, but surely out of Bolton’s reach?

You tell that to Big Sam!

Here, Football’s Cult Heroes tells the story of how the man that mentored Ronaldinho at PSG came to lead Bolton’s ‘galacticos’ to the brink of the Champions League, embarrassing defenders and upsetting the elite.

Team-mates speak of the “humble” captain that led by example whether on the pitch or on nights out in Manchester, journalists reveal the “business-like” character behind the entertainer image, and fans tell of the man that made Bolton cool.

This is the story of Jay-Jay Okocha, the greatest showman.

Contributions from Colin Udoh, Ed Aarons, Nicky Hunt, Maggie Tetlow, Gordon Sharrock and Kevin Davies.

Interviews conducted in 2020 and 2021 in accordance with UK coronavirus restrictions.