Chelsea sensational midfielder of Nigerian descent Lesley Ugochukwu has revealed how two former Nigerian internationals, Austin Okocha and Mikel Obi inspired him during their playing days.
Okocha, popularly called ‘Jay-Jay’ during his active days was one of Nigeria’s finest midfield marshals, who played for Premier League side Bolton Wanderers between 2002 and 2006, scoring 14 goals in 124 games for The Wanderers.
Mikel, a former Chelsea star, made 249 Premier League appearances for Chelsea. He won the Champions League and Europa League, two Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and the League Cup during his time with the London club.
Speaking to Chelsea’s official website, Ugochukwu, the nephew of former Nigeria centre-back Onyekachi Apam, signed for Chelsea in the summer of 2023 on a seven-year contract, revealed how he was inspired by Okocha and Mikel’s performances.
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“Most of the time when I saw him on television was the period with Mourinho. It was a great period. He was such an important player for Chelsea. And when you come from Nigeria, the names of Jay-Jay Okocha and Obi Mikel always come out,” Ugochukwu told Chelsea website.
“As a midfielder, what Mikel did for Chelsea inspired me a lot. He was calm. He had composure. He had self-confidence. That’s very important for a midfielder, to give confidence to your team.
“He was strong without the ball, aggressive. That’s the kind of player I like. I want to have great achievements like he did.”