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KUFFOUR Samuel

01 June, 2006

KUFFOUR Samuel from Ghana.The burly central defender, whose passion and commitment were famously illustrated by the tears of frustration he shed after defeat in the UEFA Champions League final in 1999, has won numerous honours at club level but has never

Name: KUFFOUR Samuel

Date of birth:   3 September 1976

Height:  178 cm

Weight:  75 kg

Position:  Defender

Current Club:  AS Rome (ITA)

Int'l Goals:   3 (as of 30-May-2006)

Int'l Caps:  58 (as of 30-May-2006)

First Int'l Cap:  Sierra Leone v. Ghana (28-Nov-1993)

Detail: Participation at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ will set the seal on the career of one of African football’s most successful exports to Europe, Ghanaian international Samuel Osei Kuffour.

The burly central defender, whose passion and commitment were famously illustrated by the tears of frustration he shed after defeat in the UEFA Champions League final in 1999, has won numerous honours at club level but has never had the chance to star in the FIFA World Cup finals.

Kuffour started out playing for local teams - Kumasi Envoys, Fantomas and King Faisal Babes - in the Ashtown district of Kumasi while earning extra money on the side as a shoe-shiner. His love for football was apparent from an early age and his mother sold the family’s television set to pay for a pair of boots for her son.

His talent caught the attention of scouts from the Italian club Torino, who brought the youngster to Europe when he was just 15. While learning his trade in Turin, Kuffour was a key member of the Ghana side that lifted the FIFA U-17 World Championship trophy in Italy in 1991 under the guidance of Otto Pfister, although he missed playing in the final against Spain.

The defender made his way up through the youth ranks at Torino, eventually appearing for the first team, but his time in Italy did not work out as planned and he was sold to Bayern Munich in the summer of 1993. After several months in Germany, he was loaned to Bayern’s Bavarian neigbours FC Nuremburg to gain experience and returned in 1996 better for his experiences.

Kuffour subsequently blossomed at Bayern. In his first season back, the team won the Bundesliga title – the first of six championship medals that the Ghanaian would collect over the next nine years. He put in a solid display in the 2001 UEFA Champions League final against Valencia, which Bayern eventually won on penalties, and a whole host of awards and medals were to follow – notably the Toyota Cup in Tokyo where he scored the injury-time winner against Boca Juniors.

With the national team he was just as successful. Taking the captain’s armband when he was still only 23, Kuffour was voted Ghana’s Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and he came second in the CAF African Player of the Year awards in 1999 and 2001.

Yet there was heartbreak too. One of the enduring images of the 1999 Champions League final when Bayern were beaten at the death by Manchester United was of a distraught Kuffour, pounding the turf with his fist as the final whistle sounded.

His 11 seasons with Bayern ended in the summer of 2005 when he returned to Italy to join AS Roma. In the Eternal City, he has become a firm favourite with the fans who admire the effort and enthusiasm he puts into every game.

Kuffour missed most of the Black Stars’ qualification matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals after falling out with coach Ratomir Dujkovic. But both men have since put aside their differences and Kuffour will be a key player for Ghana in Germany. His experience in numerous CAF African Cup of Nations tournaments and on the European stage should be a vital asset to what is essentially a relatively young Ghana side.

And with his career enjoying a revival in Italy’s Serie A, the FIFA World Cup will allow the 29-year-old Kuffour to apply the finishing touch to a curriculum that has been as colourful as it has been successful.


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