Bagan's Nigerian defender Echezona has not seen red card in last 10 years
Anyichie Echezona, Mohun Bagan‘s Nigerian defender, may not be a ‘so called’ star in Kolkata football, but silently has been carrying a rare statistics for last 10 years. Despite playing in the position of a central stopper, Eche has not seen a red card in his last 10 years’ of football. It is probably already a record among the foreign footballers who have been participating in Indian football since Chima Okorie began his journey in 1985.
The 26-year old defender is an introvert. Apart from football he loves reading books that can inspire him. Recently, he has been studying the life of Nelson Mandela. He said, “Mandela’s zeal to fight against the social anarchy throughout his life always inspires me. His determination transforms into my mind whenever I see quality forwards in front of me in a match.” Eche had represented Nigeria in under-17 and in under-20 World Cup. But the player cherishes his participation in the 2003 under-17 World Cup. “We lost in the quarter final after exhibiting a decent game,” said Eche. And talking about the cautions he received, Eche literally struggled to remember them. He revealed, “I saw yellow card in the under-17 World Cup. Then again I was cautioned in the under-20 World Cup three years later. And from then till date, I have not been sent off on a single occasion.”
We know a few names in the world of football who, along with their fame as a footballer, also have not seen cards in their career. Gary Linekar, the World Cupper from England has never seen any red card during his glorious career. Paolo Maldini, another great defender from Italy, recieved a red card after completing his 1000th game, that too in a friendly match. In India, Aloke Mukherjee is one such player who has not received a red card in his career.
Eche turned out more shy while comparing his achievement with those names. He responded, “No, no they all are great footballers. How can I be compared with them?” But how it has been possible for him to complete this achievement? Eche gave all credit to his once countrymate, John Obi Mikel, the defensive midfielder plying his trade for Chelsea. Eche said, “We were together in Pepsi Academy in Lagos. And I also started as a defensive midfielder before switching over to defense. But after everyday training, Obi used to give a crucial tips. He advised to tackle the opposition in a gentle manner so that the opponent striker never becomes your enemy off the field. And following his everyday advice, I tried to develop my skill, especially the quality of anticipation and the calmness.” And even here in Indian football, Eche’s focus is to maintain the record in more number of matches he will play in the future.