N'Gotty and Okocha released by Bolton

May 8, 2006

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce paid tribute to Jay-Jay Okocha and Bruno N'Gotty after confirmation they are to leave the club.

GettyImages / MatthewLewisJay-Jay Okocha: The end of an era

It was revealed the pair would not be returning to the Reebok Stadium next season after Bolton wrapped up their Premiership campaign with a 1-0 victory over Birmingham.

Unfortunately for Wanderers the win was not enough to secure a place in the Intertoto Cup as Newcastle pipped them to seventh place.

Allardyce told the club's official website: 'Jay-Jay and Bruno will go down in Wanderers folklore - not only for what they brought to the club in terms of experience and quality, but also for what they helped us to achieve during their time here. Nobody will ever forget their contribution.'

Nigerian playmaker Okocha, 32, joined the Trotters four years ago while 35-year-old defender N'Gotty arrived just before him in January 2002. Their contracts are now at an end and the club have decided not to offer new deals.

Allardyce added: 'We are looking to reduce the overall age of our squad and it was a tough decision not to offer them new deals.'

It is only fitting Okocha, who came off the bench, should see his Bolton career end with a victory as his impact at the club cannot be underestimated.

He helped elevate Bolton from a side that flirted with relegation to one that competed with the best and played in the UEFA Cup.

His arrival also paved the way for other world-class stars like Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo to see the merits of pitching up at the Reebok Stadium.

And despite failing to qualify for Europe next season, Bolton can be proud of finishing eighth, according to assistant manager Sammy Lee.

He said: 'It is an indication of how far this club has come that we are disappointed in not qualifying for Europe.

'I think you have to give credit to the players. They have given a superb account of themselves.

'They showed tremendous character to bounce back following five defeats in a row.'

Portuguese striker Ricardo Vaz Te, 19, stepped off the bench to score the winner in the second half.

He got on the end of a cross from Kevin Nolan to beat goalkeeper Maik Taylor at the far post.

Lee is hoping the youngster can grow in the top flight next season.

He said: 'Ricardo's potential is there for all to see. He has a number of assets and we are trying to make sure he utilises these assets.

'These are early days for him and he is still learning the game. If he keeps progressing he will have possibilities here.'