Okocha names Sammy Kuffour as the toughest defender he faced in his career
Former Nigeria international, Austin Jay Jay Okocha has heaped praises on former Ghanaian international Samuel Osei Kuffour insisting he is the toughest defender he has ever come across in his playing career.
Both players 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, the former King Faisal Babies defender 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 former AS Roma 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. Osei 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.