Player Scope: Anthony Ujah, the striker with an affection for goats and scoring goals.

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Anthony Ujah. Heard the name before? Anthony Ujah is a Nigerian footballer who plays as a striker for the German side Werder Bremen and the Nigeria national team.

He is Chezsports player of the week in today’s Player Scope.

This Ugbokolo in Benue state, born forward is a household name in the German Bundesliga,  his prowess in front of goal is a threat to many defenders and goalkeepers.

His ability to score and create scoring opportunities is what every coach seeks, hence the reason why Werder Bremen insisted on signing him on a four year contract on May 2015 after an impressive season with FC Koln where he raked in 65 appearances and left 21 goals to his name.

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Perhaps his most popular moment was the celebration that created a media wave in the home game against Eintracht Frankfurt in March this year.

It so happened that, Ujah was in brilliant form, setting up his side’s third before scoring the fourth himself. Ujah was so excited after the goal that he ran up to Hannes VIII, the club’s billy goat mascot, and tried to pull him onto the field. A tug-of-war developed between Ujah and the goat’s handler, which was documented in widely published photographs.

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It was just too much emotion,” Ujah said with a smile. “I had previously celebrated with the goat, but I never came in contact with it. Cologne is a club I love so much, and the club mascot, the billy goat, is like a symbol for the club.

The incident caused a huge reaction and Ujah had to go to the zoo to show that he had not meant to be cruel to the goat. “And then a few days later it was the goats’ birthday and I had to go back again with over 20 journalists,” Ujah explained. “It was a horrible week after this happened, but I learned from it. I am not someone who is mean to animals or disrespectful in any way, so I apologized as soon as I understood.”

The 24 year old striker is not just in love with animals, he is also fond of scoring goals hence, it was no mere chance that he was included in Keshi’s squad in the FIFA Confederations Cup competition in Brazil in 2013.

After making the FIFA Confederations , Anthony Ujah was within a post of having a dream come true by playing the following summer for Nigeria at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.

However, there was disappointment when then-coach Stephen Keshi left the exciting striker home.

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Ujah, who at the time had just gained promotion with Cologne into the German Bundesliga, vowed that he would work hard to get back into the mix, and he has done that, scoring his way into new boss Sunday Oliseh’s first roster and now on a track to reach Russia 2018 with the Super Eagles. After ten goals last term as Cologne finished 12th Ujah earned interest from other clubs, and in the end he signed with fellow Bundesliga club Werder Bremen with an eye on the next mundial.

“Although I had offers from clubs in China and Russia where I would have earned more money, I decided to sign for Bremen,” Ujah told FIFA.com. “I chose a club, which I believed would help me develop as a player and bring me back to the national team set-up.” Ujah said he was relieved and elated to see his plan come to fruition when he was named in Oliseh’s team for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Tanzania and a friendly against Niger a few days later.

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“It is very, very important for me to get another chance to play for my country because up to now I have not had so much success, but with the new coach and the new set-up I hope this will be my chance,” he explained. “I think the move [to Werder Bremen] played a role because I had a very good pre-season. With our style of play, with the offensive football in Bremen, its a dream for every striker to be a part of. I think it will make me a better player.”

Of course his bigger goal is making the team for November’s 2018 World Cup qualifiers, which will be against the winner of the two-legged tie between Djibouti and Swaziland. He believes he can keep himself in the new coach’s plans.

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“Sunday Oliseh played in the German Bundesliga, so I hope that will speak for me” Ujah said. “He is well informed because the German league is not a small league. It is the league where the world champions came from.”

We just hope Ujah score as many goals as possible but it is our plea he stays away from the mascots when celebration beckons.

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