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Sports News of Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Source: Pulse Ghana

I was overwhelmed by Pele’s praise- Odartey Lamptey

Former Ghana attacking midfielder Nii Odartey Lamptey has admitted that he failed to live up to the expectation of Edson Arantes Do Nascimento is popularly known as Pele in the football cycle because his shoes were too heavy for him to wear.

Pele touted Nii Odartey Lamptey as the next Pele when he was still a teenager because of the promise he showed.

The former Anderlecht player says he failed to live up to Pele’s prediction because the shoes of the three times FIFA World Cup winner are too heavy to wear.

“In our first match in the Scotland tournament, we played against the host nation in the presence of Brazilian Pele who picked me as the best player and then declared afterwards that I was a bright star likely to step into his big shoes,” Lamptey recalls three decades on in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

“Pele gave me the hype in 1989 when I was only 16 and in the teams I joined perhaps they were expecting so much from me just as Pele did. I never saw him play, but later I watched his videos and realised that he had so much quality so there was no way I could have fit into his big shoes. Perhaps in 1989, he saw something very unique about me so it was a privilege for him to say such good things about me.”

Lamptey acknowledged that the Brazilian’s name was too huge for a youngster to carry during his career and it was only after hanging up his boots that he realised why he could not fit into Pele’s shoes.

After the Scotland tournament, Belgian side Anderlecht signed the teenage sensation who made an explosive start to his professional career and drew comparisons with some big stars in Europe. He also became the key man in Ghana’s age-group teams, including leading the Starlets to win the 1991 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Italy. But the spotlight also placed a huge burden on the youngster as he developed his talent.

“I was already a professional player at the 1991 FIFA Under-17 tournament which we won and I was selected as the Overall Best Player and the joint winner of the Golden Boot award with five goals. So at a tender age, there was so much expected of me.”

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