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Adekanmi Olufadé: “I wasn’t offside”

Interview

October 16, 2018

Adekanmi Olufadé: “I wasn’t offside”

“Oh Everson finds Olufadé, who isn’t given offside. The chance to put this to bed, the chance to put this to bed… It’s in!”  In a boiling Stade du Ray, a young Togolese forward came to free the people of Nice, with ten minutes to go in the first Mediterranean derby of the decade. 16 years later, and with just a few days to go until the 51st Nice - Marseille in top flight history, we caught up with Adekanmi Olufadé. At 38 years old, the former international (35 apps and 9 goals) now manages Dynamic Togolais, a club in the first division in Togo. Between two training sessions, the former forward picked up his phone to tell all about that “knock-out goal”, and to discuss his strange Nice adventure. Interview. 

In Nice, nobody has forgotten the derby in 2002…

It was a great match! We won 2-0 at home. 

You scored your first goal for the Gym…

Yes, that goal killed off the game. We were winning 1-0 and they were pushing hard for the equaliser. And we had that counter… When I found myself up against Runje, I saw that he was standing up tall. In that situation, you are best to shoot close to the keeper’s feet, to surprise him, rather than curling it in and allowing him to get a touch on it. The strike to the near post, is now something I show to my players.

16 years later, the Marseillais still think that you were offside…

Ah no, it’s impossible! Look at the replay closely: there is a player who plays me onside. It’s their left back, I think it was Salomon Olembé, the Cameroonian. They need to look at the move carefully: he didn’t get back in line with the centre backs. And in any case, nobody can see better than the linesman!

“In Africa, we dance with the kidneys”

You then celebrated at the corner flag, with a little dance.

Yes, it’s an African dance. Do you remember Roger Milla?

Yes, but he wasn’t from Togo…

He is African, it’s the same thing! At home, we dance with the kidneys, you see. After he danced like he did in the World Cup with Cameroon, all young Africans wanted to copy him. He was a role model for all of us.

How did you end up at OGC Nice?

I was playing for LOSC, and I was offered to join Nice on loan. The most important thing for me was to find game time, because at Lille, a new coach had arrived with his own players. At that time, there was a huge difference between Lille, who were playing in the Champions League, and Nice, who had been promoted from D2. My idea was to play but Gernot Rohr left me on the bench a lot.

How do you explain that?

We didn’t understand each other. When you are a forward and you are played in midfield or even at full-back…

Full-back?

Yes, when we were playing a 3-5-2, he was playing me on the right. Whereas my job was to score goals. In that positon, it was impossible for me to express myself. This experience with OGC Nice brought me a lot. You always need to speak with the coach before joining a club, something that I hadn’t done at the time. Today, I am a coach and I wouldn’t dream of playing a forward in defence. That type of repositioning only works for 1 guy in 20.

“The supporters’ song still rings in my head”

Apart from the frustration over your time on the pitch, what memories do you hold of your time at OGC Nice?

The first is the supporters. They are really something else! Even today, I still have their song that rings in my head. (He sings) “Allez, allez l’Ogym allez, allez Nice allez, Nice allez, Nice allez, Nice allez”. You see, this song, it stays with me. When they used to sing it, it gave us even more desire. It was an incredible atmosphere. And during the win over Marseille, don’t even get me started… To beat your rivals, and such a huge side, when you have just been promoted from D2, I think the fans really enjoyed it.

And memories of the season?

There was a superb atmosphere within the squad, with several players on loan and a couple of Africans… During the first half of the season, we were up there with the big boys (2nd at the winter break, editor’s note). But in the second half of the season, the coach started to play players who were out of form, and it went down the pan. It’s a shame, we could have stayed at the top of the table, yet we finished in 10th or 11th (10th, editor’s note).

After a lot of movement over the summer, you had a season that exceeded expectations. How do you explain that?

This squad, it was like brothers who were coming together. As soon as a player arrived, he became part of the family. We saw a lot of each other outside of football. There was a very solid link and it could be felt on the pitch. And there were also lots of players on loan. When you are in that situation, you have just one desire: to show your club that they were wrong to let you leave.

Have you kept in touch with your former teammates?

Yes, I often chat with Kaba Diawara and Patrick Barul. We call each other or send messages. I have a real link with OGC Nice. As I felt part of the family, I keep excellent memories and I always follow the Gym’s games with particular interest. 

What do you make of the progress of the club?

I loved the 2016-17 season. Last season, it went off course a bit. But I think that the club has everything needed to become a big French club.

“A derby, it’s there to be won!”

On Sunday, there is a certain Nice - Marseille…

It’s at home, and it’s a game that we need to win. A derby is there to be won! We need to bring joy to our supporters and the board. It was the fiercest derby. Against Monaco, it’s not the same, because there were no supporters. Even when we went to the Louis-II, we were at home. Coming back to Sunday, we will win, I am confident in them.

What is the equivalent of a Nice - Marseille in Togo?

At the moment, I am coaching in Lomé. The club is called “Dyton”. It’s an abbreviation of Dynamic Togolais. It’s my fourth club in the top division. The equivalent of Nice - Marseille is when we play against Semassi de Sokode, a club from the centre of Togo. It will be feisty, even more so given that I was their manager for the last two seasons. There is going to be a fantastic atmosphere. There will be huge pressure, but I like that. I enjoy it.

The manager’s job, is it a role that you enjoy?

Definitely! I have coached four clubs in the first division, and even the Togolese national side. I am blossoming in this job. I also have the UEFA licences and I would like, one day, to coach in Europe. That would bring me closer to Nice (laughs).

Adekanmi was talking Fabien Hill