The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Kuffour for Soya

FORMER Bayern Munich star Samuel Kuffour is expected to grace this year's Safricom Soya awards planned for tomorrow at the Carnivore ground.

According to Soya Patron Paul Tergat, Kuffour will jet in tonight (12am) aboard Ethiopian Airlines and will be received at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Soya and Safaricom officials. Tergat said it is a big honour to Kenyan sportsmen and women for Kuffour to have accepted the invitation to grace the Soya occassion.

He said: "Personally I have grown up following Kuffour as a top football player and I am happy that my childhood dream to shake hands with him will finally be accomplished, thanks to Soya awards," he said. The Soya patron said Kuffour was the face of Bayern for a long time and Kenyans will no doubt be happy to be associated.

"We all grew up following Bundesliga and Kuffour was one of the names that inspired us to get glued on our TV stations," said Tergat.

Samuel Osei Kuffour is best remembered for his time with Bayern Munich, whom he played for over a decade, winning a total of 17 major titles, and playing in nearly 250 official matches.

Kuffour played for the Ghanaian national team in the 2006 World Cup and has featured in four Africa Cup of Nations.

He kicked off his professional stint at Italian club, Torino F.C in Europe in 1991 aged just 15, after playing junior football for local teams in his native country.

He joined FC Bayern Munich in 1993 from the Torino. After a season-long loan spell with FC Nuremberg in the second division, he made his breakthrough with the Bavarians. Kuffour spent 11 seasons with Bayern, raising from the youth teams to be a prominent first-squad member who lifted the Uefa Champions League with the club.

He was an integral part of the squad that won the 2000-01 Champions League, also scoring the winning goal in the 2001 Intercontinental Cup to emerge man of the match. In same year, he finished second in African Footballer of the Year's voting, and repeating the feat accomplished in 1999.

Kuffour was also part of the Bayern team which lost to Manchester United due to two late goals in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final. During the match, he is fondly remembered for his 'ground kicking' act in frustration afterwards, a gesture that endeared him to Bayern supporters. He also became the youngest defender of all-time to score in the Champions League, at the age of 18 years and 61 days during the match against FC Spartak Moscow on November 2, 1994, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Kuffour made over 60 Uefa Champions League appearances, the most by any African player ever, He is also one of the most decorated African players of all time.

Kuffour left Bayern in the summer of 2005, and signed a three-year deal with A.S. Roma in a free transfer, thus returning to Italy. He made 21 appearances in his debut season, having spent a period of the season away on international duty and, in his second year, was loaned to Uefa Cup competitor and fellow Serie A team A.S. Livorno Calcio.

In August 2007, Kuffour had an unsuccessful trial with Premier League side Sunderland, with a view to a permanent move. However, manager Roy Keane confirmed he would not be joining the club, in a post match interview after Sunderland's defeat to Liverpool.

In January 2008, AFC Ajax received Kuffour on a six-month loan contract, with an option for two more seasons but was later released. He later retired from professional football.

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