Former Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah has reminisced how ex-Ghana star Mohammed feigned injury during a friendly game to land him a deal at Udinese Clacio.
Appiah, who began his career at Ghanaian giants Hearts of Oak, had trials with Galatasaray’s youth squad in 1996 but was not signed and he returned to his parent club.
A year later, the now 39-year-old midfielder tried his luck once again abroad with Italian side Udinese, where he finally got signed at the club, initially playing as a striker.
In an interview with Yaw Ampofo Ankrah on the Black Stars Classics on Max TV last Sunday, ‘Tonaldo’ as he popularly called said; ‘’I had arrived in Italy to have trails with Udinese as a young player, things were difficult because that was the first time making these trips and I was alone so I struggled,’’
‘’The language, food and weather was always a problem but upon arriving at the team’s training grounds, I met legendary Mohammed Gargo who advised me and encouraged me.
‘’I can recall my first game under then coach Alberto Zaccheroni,Mohammed, Gargo had to fake injury so I can have some minutes to play and that changed everything.
‘’I was on the bench for that game and with some other players. In and around the 75th minute, Gargo pretended to have been injured and couldn’t continue. Being the only midfield player on the bench, the coach subbed me on and I scored a goal from 30-35 yards.
‘’The next day, a team mate came to our hostel with some newspaper with my picture on the front page. I couldn’t read Italia so I had to seek interpretation, so I took it to Mohammed Gargo’s house and he told me the coach (Alberto Zaccheroni) has asked the management not to let me go and that they should do everything to sign me’ ’ he added.
Stephen Appiah went on to play for three seasons with Udinese from 1997 to 2000.
He later joined Parma in 2000 and then to Brescia on loan and eventually joined Juventus.
Stephen Appiah is regarded as one of the best Ghanaian players to play in the Italian Seria A, winning the Coppa Italia with Parma in the 2001-2002 season before winning the Supercoppa Italia with Juventus in 2003.
He guided Ghana to qualify for its maiden World Cup in Germany 2006.