Bolton victory today would be huge, says Okocha
Bolton Wanderers great Jay Jay Okocha believes the town will erupt if the team can reach their first FA Cup final in over half a century with victory over Stoke City at Wembley today.
The Nigerian playmaker was part of the Wanderers team who last reached a cup final, the League Cup in 2004. But having not reached the final of the showpiece tournament since they won it in 1958, Okocha knows how supporters would react.
'It would mean the whole world to them,' said the 37-year-old, in Hong Kong yesterday on a promotional tour with Champions League sponsors Heineken. 'When I was there we played in the Carling Cup final and for the whole town it was as if we were preparing for a World Cup final, so it would be massive.
'I'm still a Bolton fan and I think they've carried on from where we stopped, they've built on the foundation we laid and it's good to see them established as a Premiership club now and no longer a relegation candidate.'
Okocha's trickery was one of the few reasons to watch Sam Allardyce's pragmatic Bolton team and he admires the way current manager Owen Coyle has transformed a football philosophy that had seemed ingrained. 'He's done a very good job in that respect. Bolton are not known any more as a one-way traffic team. He's changed that image and a lot of personnel at the club because you need quality players to be able to play quality football.
'It's obvious he's got a different philosophy to Sam Allardyce, but during his time there he did a great job too because he virtually took the club from nothing to the Uefa Cup. You can't forget that - even though we were playing ugly football, he achieved his marks with his own belief.'
Stoke and Bolton fans will be leaving in their droves for Wembley today and City manager Tony Pulis says the trip to Wembley is just reward for his team's effort this season.
'I don't think there will be many people left in Stoke on Sunday and it's wonderful to see the effect it has had around the city,' he told the club's website. 'It's created a great buzz of excitement which is good when you think that area has been through hard times recently and the club itself was also in the doldrums for a long time.'
Bolton will make at least one change with on-loan Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge cup-tied. John Carew could come back for Stoke after injury.