Augustine Azuka “Jay-Jay” Okocha first began playing football on the street just like many other football stars, usually with a makeshift ball. In 1990 he joined Enugu Rangers. In his time at the club he produced many spectacular displays.
Okocha joined Eintracht Frankfurt in 1992, where he shined, one highlight being a goal he scored against Karlsruhe, dribbling in the penalty box and slotting the ball past Oliver Kahn even going past some players twice. The goal was voted Goal of the Season by many soccer magazines.
Okocha joined Turkish club Fenerbahçe following Eintracht Frankfurt’s relegation to Bundesliga 2. In his two seasons with the team he amassed thirty goals in sixty appearances, many of them coming from direct freekicks which had become something of a trademark for him at the club. He was also part of the side that historically defeated Manchester United 1–0 at Old Trafford in the 1996-1997 UEFA Champions League group stage. While at Fenerbahçe he became a Turkish citizen as “Muhammet Yavuz“.
In 1998 French side PSG splashed around $24 million on Okocha, making him the most expensive African player at the time. During his 4-year stint with PSG, he played 84 matches and scored 12 goals.
Okocha joined Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer after leaving PSG in the summer of 2002 after the FIFA World Cup. His debut season, despite being hampered by injury, made him a favourite with the Bolton fans, with the team printing shirts with the inscription “Jay-Jay – so good they named him twice“. He steered the team away from relegation with seven goals, including the team Goal of the Season in the vital league win against West Ham. This 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 Guðni Bergsson’s retirement. As captain he led Bolton to their first cup final in nine years where they finished runners-up in the 2004 Football League Cup.
After just one season in Qatar, Football League Championship side Hull City signed Okocha on a free transfer in 2007, at the end of the season, after changing his mind on a proposed retirement due to Hull’s promotion, he was released by the club, which sent him into retirement.
Patrick Kluivert is the Dutch national team all-time leading goalscorer with 40 goals.
Kluivert was part of Ajax’s Golden Generation of the 1990s. He made his debut in the senior team of Ajax in 1994 at the age of 18 in the Dutch Super Cup win against Feyenoord, in which he scored his first goal. The 1994–95 season saw Kluivert make his mark – along with a host of youngsters from the Ajax youth academy, including Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, and Edwin van der Sar – on the European stage with a triumph in the UEFA Champions League. Kluivert came off the bench to score an 85th minute winner in the 1995 Champions League Final against A.C. Milan in Vienna, Austria. He soon became Ajax’s “Golden Boy” of the mid-90s, leading the Ajax front-line as the side claimed several pieces of silverware during that period.
He declined a new contract to leave for Milan on a Bosman transfer in 1997, by which time he had scored 39 goals from 70 games in the Dutch league over three seasons. His career at A.C. Milan started well, when he scored a sensational goal against Juventus in a friendly match. After scoring only six goals in the Serie A, he left for FC Barcelona.
On 28 August 1998, an hour before the transfer deadline, Kluivert signed a four-year contract with FC Barcelona for a fee of £8.75 million. Kluivert was reunited with Louis van Gaal, a mentor from his days at Ajax. Kluivert formed a successful partnership with Rivaldo, which enabled Barça to defend the Spanish La Liga in 1998–99. The following season was also a successful one for Kluivert. Although Barcelona failed to win a third consecutive league title, Kluivert finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 15 league goals. He was released from Barcelona in the summer of 2004. He scored 90 league goals in his time with the club, leaving him as the 6th (sixth) all time top-scorer for the club in La Liga.
Kluivert joined Newcastle United in 2004, despite scoring 13 goals in his debut season, Newcastle finished the league in the bottom half which triggered a clause in his contract saying either party could decide not to extend his contract a further year. Patrick had another two short spells with Valencia, Lille and PSV.
Kluivert will be remembered for rising to the occasion in front of partisan home crowds, scoring five goals in as many games, jointly claiming the Golden Boot with Savo Milošević.
Paris St Germain are ready to transfer Emmanuel Adebayor after Tottenham ruled themselves out of the running.
Harry Redknapp would happily sign the Manchester City striker on a permanent deal after he impressed while on loan this season, but is not prepared to pay the total package involved.
Manchester City want £12million for the striker which would not be a problem for Spurs but the club are unwilling to match the player’s wage demands of £170,000 per week.
However big spending PSG are willing to meet such wages and pay City the £12million so a move to France looks to be on the cards for the former Arsenal man.
Italian clubs Juventus and AC Milan have also expressed interest in Adebayor but PSG, who are managed by former Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti, are pole position to do a deal for the 28-year-old.
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney’s spectacular overhead kick against Manchester City has been voted the greatest goal in the history of the English Premier League.
Rooney’s strike, which sealed a 2-1 derby victory for United at Old Trafford in February 2011, was on a shortlist of 10 goals in a poll organized by the Premier League to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Spurs has made an official approach for Ajax skipper Jan Vertonghen and is now battling rival Arsenal for the defender’s services.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that the Belgian’s agent has confirmed that negotiations have started over a €8 million deal to take Vertonghen to White Hart Lane.
“I think Tottenham are an amazing club and you see how well they are doing this season,” Vertonghen said. “I can’t say anything about whether there has been contact about a transfer but I think my game can be suited to English football.”
Grobari (Gravediggers or Undertakers) are supporters of the Belgrade football club Partizan Belgrade. They are one of two major football fan groups in Serbia. They generally support all clubs within the Partizan Sports Society, and mostly wear black and white symbols, which are the club’s colors.
First groups of organized Partizan fan supporters began to visit the JNA stadium in the late 1950s. Those were mainly young men from Belgrade, and they occupied southern stands of the stadium. In those times, support was expressed by loud singing as well as polling of referees and opposite team’s players.
By the 1980s, Grobari were one of the largest and most organized fan groups in SFR Yugoslavia and began outmarching to all Partizan’s games across the country and Europe.
Grobari have become recognizable by noisy and constant cheering and their devotion and loyalty to the club. The basis of their cheering is the principle of voice and palms along with songs in distinctive style. Grobari also do other actions characteristic to organized fan groups, such as choreographies, banners and flares.
Roberto Baggio is as one of the finest footballers of all times (4th at a Fifa internet poll; member of the Fifa World Cup Dream Team), Baggio won both the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1993. He is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups. He is also one of the top 5 all-time goalscorers for Italy. Baggio is known as Il Divin Codino (The Divine Ponytail), for the hairstyle he wore for most of his career and his Buddhist background.
Baggio totalled 27 goals in 56 caps for his national team, the fourth-highest of all time for Italy. He is the only Italian player ever to score in three World Cups with a total of 9 career World Cup goals, which puts him even with Christian Vieri and Paolo Rossi as Italy’s top World Cup scorers. For all his talent he was never rewarded with a victory in an international competition. He infamously missed the deciding penalty in the final of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, which contributed to Italy losing the trophy to Brazil.
He made his Serie A debut for Fiorentina on 21 September 1986 against Sampdoria and scored his first league goal on 10 May 1987 against Napoli, in a match best remembered for Napoli winning the Scudetto for the first time in their history. In 1990, Baggio was sold to Juventus, amid outcry from Fiorentina fans, in 1990 for €10 million (US$13.6 million), the world record transfer for a football player at the time. In 1993, he won his only European club trophy, helping Juventus to the UEFA Cup final in which he scored twice. His performances earned him both the European Footballer of the Year and the FIFA World Player of the Year titles. In 1995 Baggio won his first Scudetto with Juventus.
In 1995, after strong pressure from Milan chairman Silvio Berlusconi, he was sold to the Milanese club. At this time, he had been linked with English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Blackburn Rovers, but no firm offers were made from either of these clubs. He helped Milan win the Serie A title, becoming the first player to win the Scudetto in consecutive years with different teams.
In 1997, Baggio transferred to Bologna in order to resuscitate his career, and after scoring a personal best 22 goals that year. After the 1998 World Cup, Baggio signed with Internazionale. This proved to be an unfortunate move, as the then coach Marcello Lippi did not favour Baggio. This caused Baggio to lose his place in the national team.
Baggio maintained a high level of performance in the next years, playing at Brescia until his retirement in 2004. He played his last game on 16 May 2004 at the San Siro against Milan. In the 88th minute, Brescia coach Gianni De Biasi subbed Baggio off so he could get his curtain call. The 80,000 present at the San Siro gave him a standing ovation. He ended his career with 205 goals in Serie A, making him the sixth-highest scorer of all time behind Silvio Piola, Gunnar Nordahl, Giuseppe Meazza, José Altafini and Francesco Totti. His number 10 jersey was retired by Brescia. He scored his 300th career goal on 16 December 2002 in Brescia’s 3–1 home victory over Piacenza. He was the first player in over 50 years to reach this milestone.