•Gethin Jones in action for Bolton Wanderers
•Gethin Jones’ mother, Karen ( middle) flanked by friends, relatives, organisers before kick off at the Bolton University Stadium on Sunday
He spent just 4 seasons at the Reebok Stadium with Bolton Wanderers Football Club and succeeded in writing his name in gold.
Any true fan of the club nicknamed the Trotters still remembers with nostalgia how Austin Jay Jay Okocha so simplified the art of playing football with his exuberant skills that his name remains eternally etched in the club’s folklore till this day.
No one also forgets that the Nigerian midfield maestro, because of how he brought joy and satisfaction to the club’s teeming fans, not only won accolades and got songs composed for him, he also often got referred to as the one who was “so good he was named twice!”
Okocha had a reason to return to the club last weekend after he was invited to take part in a charity match to raise funds to help the mother of one of the team’s current players down with a strange ailment called MND — Motor Neuron Disease, a neurological condition that causes the degeneration of the human motor system.
The match, played at the Bolton University Stadium on Sunday November 14, 2021 involved the current Bolton Wanderers squad and a selected eleven from the older generation of the team of which Okocha is a part.
The game ended 7-4 in favour of the current team now playing in the Championship.
And it was played in honour of the team’s left back, Gethin Jones’ mother, Karen who is down with the disease.
Here are 4 things Okocha did that got the more than 13,000 fans present at the Bolton University Stadium yesterday afternoon, talking.
ROLLING BACK THE YEARS
•Okocha played Sunday’s charity game like one who never retired
Okocha lined up alongside the legends of the club to play Sunday’s charity match against a current team of well honed players who play in the league week in, week out, not looking intimidated at all.
He was fit and not looking like someone who had retired from the game for more than 10 years!
He still unleashed a bag full of silky skills on the expectant crowd as he did amazing things with the ball.
•Okocha’s celebration began after he registered the opener
Okocha, it was, who set the tone for the direction the match ultimately went by scoring the opening goal in the 13th minute of an exciting end to end display.
He also worked hard to help his old pals despite the added task of playing with a more youthful opponent.
RE-UNITING WITH OLD PALS
•Former goalie, Juusi Jaaskelainen was one of Okocha’s old teammates that he played with on Sunday
Seeing his former teammates of 17, 18 years ago must have evoked some nostalgic feelings in Okocha.
It was like time never went away as he found himself lining up with his former teammates like Ivan Campos, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ricardo Gardner, John McGinley, Henrik Pedersen, one-time captain, Kevin Davies, among others.
The re-union was complete with former boss, Sam Allardyce coming around to also tinker the squad just like it was in the old days!
THE DANCE ROUTINE
•NOT FORGOTTEN: Okocha and Allardyce remembered the dance routine that sprung forth from that 2003 relegation escape
Okocha, a former captain of the team, did not also fail to bring back memories of the dance he did with Allardyce after Bolton Wanderers survived a drop to the Championship ( then Nationwide League) on the last day of the 2002/03 season.
Okocha had not only led Bolton to beat Middlesbrough on that fateful day, he also scored one of the goals.
The mood at the Reebok Stadium had been so electric that both player and coach lapsed into a dance routine on the sidelines that got the fans into a bigger frenzy.
Allardyce appeared to show Okocha he hadn’t forgotten that dance and had repeated the same dance after he scored in the exhibition game at the University of Bolton Stadium on Sunday.
•Current Bolton players celebrating their win over Okocha’s legends at the Bolton University Stadium on Sunday