Former Super Eagles captain Austin Jay Jay Okocha has been answering
some questions on his playing career and has reserved special praise for
former Ghana and Bayern Munich defender Samuel Osei Kuffour.
The two African stars faced each other every season during Okocha’s
four-year stay at Eintracht Frankfurt between 1992 and 1996.
While Okocha was lighting up the league with his majestic skills and
flicks, Sammy Kuffour was being praised by Bayern Munich fans for his
excellent defensive prowess.
In an extensive interview with reporters at the Bundesliga StarTimes
Legends Tour in Lagos, Okocha singled out the Ghanaian defender as the
toughest opponent he ever came up against in his playing career.
“I realised at a very young age that I had a gift to do special things
with the ball. My biggest opponent was me. I knew I was in charge when
with the ball. But on the toughest defenders I faced, I would say that
my African brothers were the ones.
“We have the same mentality and thought the same way. Ossei Kuffour was
the toughest of them all. There was a game that he kept following and
marking me and I asked him, “O boy, take it easy, look at the way you
are breathing down on my neck” and he replied that “sorry I got work to
do”. “He brought out the best in me”
He also reflected on his famous goal against Oliver Khan where he
dribbled five players before rounding the legendary goalkeeper to score
one of the most iconic goals in football history.
“It was not planned but it was meant to be. I was on the bench on that
day and upset not to be selected. So when I was called upon to go in, I
wanted to prove a big point. I was patient enough to have held the ball
for that long because when I tried to shoot at goal, one defender would
come and I would just move my leg and another would come, prompting me
to step away again until I eventually scored. Our manager then said that
had I missed that scoring chance that I would not have played again, so
God rescued me from his threat”.
“As a player I did not want to pass the ball to anyone but my coaches
in the Bundesliga taught me how to play for the good of the team. I
always felt very comfortable with the ball. When with it, I believed
that nobody could stop me. I knew I was gifted with the ball and could
do anything with it.
I was my biggest opponent. I never believed anybody could take the ball
away from me, but I was made to release later that it was about the
team, not the individual”. On his famous goal against Oliver Khan,
Okocha said it was as a result of his desire to prove a point for being
benched in that game” he concluded.