Former Ghana and Bayern Munich centre-back Sammy Osei Kuffour believes he was cheated for not being crowned African footballer of the year in both 1999 and 2001 after having a fantastic seasons in all those campaigns.
The former A.S Roma defender lost the two awards to Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu and Senegalese El Hadji Diouf in 1999 and 2001 respectively which sounds ridiculous to him even as at now feeling he was highly cheated especially the 2001 edition.
In 1999, Sammy Kuffour won the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich but narrowly lost the UEFA Champions League to Manchester United in Barcelona after conceding two late goals in an encounter which teaches the story of ‘not given up’. He disclosed he deserved that accolade since Kanu got injured for almost the entire season having only one special moment in that season that was the hatrick he netted against Chelsea. He stated;
“I think I should have won the two of them,” Kuffour told Goal on Saturday, “because in 1999, Kanu was injured for [almost] the whole year. He scored a hat-trick [against Chelsea] but how many games did he play? Last time, he and I were debating, we were talking about it.
“Kanu and I go a long way. We have been very good friends. We were discussing the issue and it turned into laughter. For me, I think I deserve to win in 1999. Even the guy who came third, [Ibrahima] Bakayoko [of Mali] told me I deserved it.
With that of the 2001, after choosing the venue and date of the event just like all previous winners have been made to do same by CAF, he was still swerved with El Hadji Diouf being crowned the winner.
Sammy Kuffour 43, has stated the 2001 season was the best in his entire career winning the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and the Uefa Champions league humbling Valencia 5-4 on penalties after 1-1 stalemate in Milan. In the same year, Kuffour was voted BBC African footballer of the year. He said;
“In 2001, even for the BBC African Player of the Year, El-Hadji Diouf was not even part of it. It was me, Mohammed Kallon of Sierra Leone and Samuel Eto’o. So why should El-Hadji Diouf win [the Caf award]?
“If you become the African Player of the Year, they [Caf] will call you to tell you. You have to choose the venue and date. And I did that: I chose the venue and date. Even today, a lot of people ask about that; they were shocked. How?
“You play Africa Cup of Nations in January and you didn’t win the trophy. I won the league, FA Cup, the Champions League, the Inter-continental Cup – I was the [Man of the Match], I was the best defender in the German league, so how? I don’t know. I don’t think about it. We talk about it and we laugh – me and my children.
“I think 2001 was the greatest moment of my career because it was a year of gold for me because 1991 we [Ghana U17] won the World Cup and in 2001, I won the champions League,” the 43-year-old said.
“And then I won the [BBC] African Player of the Year, the Ghana Player of the Year, the Ghana Sportsman of the Year, I won the Intercontinental Cup in Japan [where I won the Man of the Match] and got a car. So for me, 2001 was an incredible year for me.”
Despite feeling cheated in those years, Sammy Kuffour still feels proud of himself as the only defender to have made the list of 30 All time best African footballers. “For me to be recognised among the 30 Best African Players of All-Time and being the only defender, I think it was a great achievement for me”, he concluded.
By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim