Former Black Stars captain Stephen Leroy Appiah has recollected how a friendly game changed everything for him at Udinese in Italy.
In an interview with Yaw Ampofo Ankrah on the Black Stars Classics on Max TV on Sunday 5th of June,2020, Stephen Tornado Appiah 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 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.
Stephen Appiah went on to play for three seasons with Udinese signing 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.