Appiah explains how Juventus attempted to prevent him from representing Ghana at the Olympics.
Ghanaian legend Stephen Appiah has come out to talk about how Italian football giants Juventus tried to prevent him from representing the Black Stars at the 2006 Olympic Games in Italy.
Once transferred from Parma, the former Black Stars captain went on to appear in 30 Serie A games, including the Coppa Italia final, before retiring from international football. In addition, he made his debut in the Champions League this season. Appiah appeared in 18 Serie A games during his second season with the Juventus.
Appiah, who was 22 at the time, was faced with a difficult decision when Juventus asked him not to represent Ghana at the summer games in Italy in 2006. Appiah has now provided an explanation for what transpired.
‘I was informed that the club had received a letter from Ghana.’ Before I walked through the door, I realized it was all about the Olympics,” the 41-year-old Appiah said, according to Asaase Radio, which was quoted by Talk Sports Ghana.
“When I walked into the Sporting Director’s office, there were only three people there: Luciano Moggi, the Director of Football at Juventus, Geraldo, the club’s lawyer, and the legendary Berttegga himself,” I recalled.
“They went into great detail about how much they needed me without even asking if I wanted to go or not. They suggested that I remain in the country and not represent my country at the Olympic Games. I requested some time to consider my options and make a decision. They gave me three days to complete the task.”
“I had previously spoken to some teammates who had attended the Olympics, and what they had to say about it was unmissable,” Appiah continued. It was a festival, in addition to the immeasurable sense of pride that comes from representing your country at a multi-sport event.
This is what they said about the Games village: “Seeing other world-class athletes up close and in action was an experience that can’t be described in words.” This was a far superior event to the World Cup. As a result, I had to be there.
“On a personal note, I had previously represented my country at the Fifa U17 World Cup, twice at the U20 World Cup, but never at the Olympics.” This was my opportunity. And, as a matter of principle, the only things that could prevent me from representing my country are injuries or suspensions. That is a non-negotiable requirement.”
Appiah went on to say that, despite his stance, he had been summoned once more for a meeting with Juventus’ Moggi on the matter. Appiah remained firm and insisted that he was required to travel to Athens with Ghana.
“I’m aware that they thought highly of me. I was considered to be one of the more talented midfielders on the team. Nevertheless, this is Juventus, where there are always options,” Appiah continued.
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When he moved on to Athens, Appiah immediately made his mark as an aggressive, well-balanced attacking midfielder with a deadly eye for goal. The youngster scored twice during his brief stay in Athens, and he was outstanding in all three of the team’s group games, leading the attacking department in spectacular fashion.
Transferred from Juventus to Fenerbahce for €8 million in July 2005, he became the club’s most expensive player. As a result, he helped his club to victory in the Turkish Super League Championship in their centennial season.