The experimental results on the pion, strangeness and J/psi production in high energy nuclear collisions are discussed. The anomalous energy dependence of pion and strangeness production is consistent with the hypothesis that a transition to a deconfined phase takes place between the top AGS (15 AGeV) and the SPS (200 AGeV) energies. The J/psi production systematics at the SPS can be understood assuming that the J/psi mesons are created at hadronization according to the available hadronic phase space. This new interpretation of the J/psi data allows one to establish a coherent picture of high energy nuclear collisions based on the statistical approaches of the collision early stage and hadronization. Surprisingly, the statistical model of strong interactions is successful even in the region reserved up to now for pQCD based models.