Exclusive Interview: Sunday Oliseh

James Rowe for The Secret Footballer

JR  ''Hi Sunday, thanks for talking to me at TSF.  This is a special interview for me because I am based in Amsterdam and you are a legend at Ajax!  Tell me about your time with the Dutch giants''

SO '' Well they were very great times indeed.  We won three titles during my time at Ajax which was very nice. I really enjoyed the football and got on with most of my teammates that I had.  And I really enjoyed the city of Amsterdam too.  Ajax was really nice to me, but the best thing was the style of football that we played. I really enjoyed the football that we played together''.

JR ''After Ajax you had four seasons with Borussia Dortmund.  I always think that Ajax and Dortmund are similar in terms of what they stand for and the passion of the fans.  How was your time in Germany?''

SO  ''It was a wonderful four years.  The highlight for sure was the 2001/ 2002 season where we became Bundesliga Champions and we also reached the final of the UEFA Cup, unfortunately we lost to a good Feyenoord team in Rotterdam.  But we had an exceptional season together and I made some lifelong friends during my time at the club who I still speak to today.  

My first two and a half seasons at Borussia Dortmund were a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. At one point during my time at the club I was loaned out to VfL Bochum which I really liked too, it was another new experience.  But Borussia Dortmund as a club are probably the club with the most fanatical fans in Germany - they are really amazing.  Honestly, the fans of Borussia Dortmund are really exceptional''

JR  ''You were capped over 50 times by Nigeria, memorably winning an Olympic Gold medal in 1996, not to mention playing in three World Cups.  What was it like to slip on the shirt of the Super Eagles?

SO  ''Well the joy of representing my country cannot be put into words.  It is not only an honour but it is also an exceptional sense of fulfillment.  Being with your countrymen and fighting what you call the friendly war in football... nothing beats it.  Winning Olympic Gold in Atlanta in the United States in 1996 stands out for a particular reason.  We won the title, and it is something that no other third world country had achieved at that point.  Although Cameroon won the Sydney Olympic games in Australia in 2000, we were the first!

When we won the Olympics it took the world by storm, and it was celebrated for years.  In fact this year will be the silver jubilee of winning the title which coincides with my autobiography.  My book details exactly how we won it, I talk about the training sessions as well as the difficulties and the challenges that we faced too.  That time with the Nigerian national team was exceptional.  I can't describe it to you in words''

JR ''Good job you wrote a book then!  I'm assuming that your autobiography also talks about the best players that you've played?  Give us a quick sneak peek as to who they are?

SO  ''Rashidi Yekini was a great striker, he was my teammate in the Nigerian national team. He was physically very strong and he was a good finisher during his club career where he played for among others ,Vitória Setúbal in Portugal and Sporting Gijón in Spain. I also played with Zinedine Zidane at Juventus during my year in Italy.  But Michael Laudrup from my time at Ajax... there are no words for him.  He was an incredible player who had a fantastic career playing for many great clubs such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, and he was a great leader for his country ''

JR  ''If I had a mike in my hand I'd drop it.  I can imagine in your position as a defensive midfielder that you also came up against many great players too?

SO  ''Well, the best opponent I ever played against was Diego Maradona.  That was at the 1994 World Cup in the United States, he was truly amazing.  The confidence upon which my career was built was mostly aided by the 90 minutes I played against that guy.  He was just exceptional and the fact that I could live to the same level to enable me to compete against him made me feel that I could face anybody in the world from then on.  Diego Maradona was just an unbelievable footballer, end of story''

JR ''Somebody give me another mike to drop!  Sunday, I really appreciate you taking the time out from promoting your autobiography to speak to me at TSF.  Let's go out with a bang... the best coach you ever had?

SO  ''Morten Olsen stands out for me.  He was my manager at Ajax and he is a great human being who tries to get the best of out of you as a player and as a person.  He is never satisfied and encourages his players a lot.  If you have any private problems he is always available to try to lend a helping hand, I just loved playing under him and it showed in the way that I played when I was at Ajax.  He also managed Brøndby IF and FC Köln as well as being the Danish national team manager for 15 years, he's an outstanding person."


James Rowe is a Dutch Football expert based in the Netherlands, professional writer and translator for The Secret Footballer. He has featured on talkSPORT and regularly features on talkSPORT 2 and Love Sport Radio. You can follow him on Twitter here.