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BREAKING: “I was sick of it” – Ghana-born ex-Dutch star reveals the game he hated Austin Okocha’s pre-match media hype

Former Dutch midfielder George Boateng has confessed he did not enjoy the media hype around Austin Okocha ahead of the 2004 League Cup final between Middlesbrough and Bolton Wanderers, Soccernet.ng reports.

After arriving from PSG on a free transfer at the end of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Okocha had risen to become the captain and most influential player at Bolton.

The veteran Nigerian playmaker was nearing the peak of his popularity in English football, having enjoyed an excellent 2003.

That year, Okocha finished in third place in the race for the African Footballer of the Year, won the BBC Goal of the Month in April, and claimed the Premier League Player of the Month in November.

In the League Cup that season, Okocha had played key roles in helping Bolton knock out Liverpool and Aston Villa – scoring three brilliant free-kicks – in earlier rounds.

It was, therefore, logical that the media created the buzz for Bolton’s final clash with Middlesbrough around the former Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder.

The media hype, however, did not sit well with Middlesbrough midfielder Boateng, who felt his side had a good chance against Bolton despite Okocha’s presence.

Speaking to BBC on the 20th anniversary of the encounter, the four-capped Netherlands international recalled how he was motivated to neutralise the influence of the Nigerian in the match.

Middlesbrough defeated Bolton Wanderers 2-1 in that final on February 29, 2004, to lift the club’s first and only major honour since it was established.