“Register me in I-League or I shall leave Dempo” Ghana international Stephen Offei Interview
Dempo’s Rohan Ricketts is of course, the EPL player. However, the Goan giants have another foreigner with an impressive CV but have strangely, not even registered him in the I-League. The player in question is Stephen Offei, a Ghana international who has played in the top division of the Israel domestic league.
The 26-year-old central defender was actually set to join Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua, the club who currently have Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka in their ranks, in August, but a hamstring injury denied Offei the move to China.
After being given the idea of playing in India by Mumbai FC’s Ghanaian striker Yusif Yakubu, Offei’s agent contacted Dempo and then after a short trial, was given a one-year contract.
“As the deal in China didn’t work out because of my injury, I was looking for a club and then Yusif Yakubu inspired me to come to India. He told me that on a professional note the offer in India is good and that Dempo will be playing in the AFC Cup. I was keen on playing in Asia and thus opted to sign here in India,” Offei told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
But since his move to India, Offei, who made his international debut in 2009 and has two caps for Ghana, has only featured in six Goa league matches and is clearly frustrated with the lack of gametime at Dempo.
“I just want to play and help the team. I think with my experience, I can add something to Dempo but the coach told me ‘you need to acclimatise to the Indian conditions’ and giving that reason they didn’t register me in the I-League,” said Offei.
With Dempo set to withdraw from the AFC Cup due to ground unavailability, there are rumours that they might release Offei. The Ghanaian is still hopeful of getting things sorted at Dempo but admitted only playing in the Goa league is unacceptable for him.
“I am still under contract at Dempo so I still hope I get the chance to show what I have got. I am not here to play only in the Goa league. Even if we don’t play the AFC Cup, it’s fine but I want to play in the I-League. I have given them the ultimatum to register me in the I-League soon or I shall leave by mutual consent,” Offei spoke out.
The former Ghana U-23 International also revealed how his good relationship with Yakubu, who is a legend in Indian club football, saw him nearly join Pune FC last year.
“I know Yakubu for a very long time and he used to keep telling about Indian football. Last year he mentioned to be me about the possibilities of playing in the I-League. So I had negotiations with Pune and almost everything was done but eventually I didn’t get a visa,” Offei stated.
Offei is a former teammate of current Swansea City striker Itay Shechter as the two played for Israeli club Maccabi Netanya. The defender stated that the contrast in the fortunes of the two is strange and he is hopeful of playing in the I-League soon, even if that means playing for another Indian club.
“Yes, we played and trained with each other in Israel and remain friends. It is very weird now that he is playing at the highest level possible while I can’t even get games in the I-League. I wrote about this on twitter a few weeks back and I believe this shows how things change quickly in football.
“I want to still fight for my place here at Dempo because I am eager to play in India and get the unique experience that I had come for. Yes, if needed, I am open to other offers (from Indian clubs) because I have a one-year visa,” Offei concluded.