Former Aston Villa and Coventry City attacker Nii Odartey Lamptey has revealed the physicality of the Premier League contributed to his largely unsuccessful spell in England in the 90s.
After a fine stint on loan at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven from Belgian giants Anderlecht, the Ghanaian joined Villa in 1994, a transfer that produced three goals and less than a dozen appearances in all competitions.
He was on the move the following season to City but another disappointing campaign meant he would promptly quit English football for good, making a switch to Italian side Venezia.
“It was really too much for me, to me it was a wrong decision to move to England at that time,” Lamptey, who has advised in-demand Ghana midfielder Thomas Teye Partey to snub English clubs Arsenal and Manchester United in the wake of transfer reports, told the Daily Graphic newspaper.
“I went there because Anderlecht did not want to approve of my stay in Holland, which would have helped me much and I was also not willing to return to Belgium.
“It was not easy to fit into the [Premier League] in those days. Their style of play was too robust for my liking and besides, I met very tall players, so I struggled to cope.
“Their style of play never suited me at all. The players were not only tall but also they liked playing long balls and running for them.
“I was short and skilful at that time so it affected my performance so much.”
Lamptey again spent only one season at Venezia, foretelling a journeyman’s career in waiting.
He transferred to Argentine side Union Santa Fe where he spent less than a year before moving to Turkish outfit Ancaragucu and later to Portuguese fold Union Leiria.
“I was also playing many matches for the various national teams in Ghana so at a tender age of 19 years in 1994, it was not easy for me. You can imagine the load on my shoulders at that time,” the 45-year-old, who won gold with Ghana at the 1991 U17 World Cup, bronze at the 1992 Olympic Games and Silver at the 1993 U20 World Cup, added. His outstanding performance at the U17 World Cup, where he was adjudged Player of the Tournament, caught the eye of Brazil and world football icon Pele.
“My work permit [in England] was not renewed because a foreign player needed to play 75 percent of matches for his club but because I was almost always playing for the national teams, I did not meet their criteria for a work permit renewal.
“Eventually, I left for Italy to continue my career in Venezia but I stayed for a short time and left for Argentina to play for Boca Juniors.”
Lamptey later played for German side Greuther Furth, Shandong Luneng in China and Al-Nasr Dubai in the United Arab Emirates before briefly returning to Ghana to feature for Asante Kotoko.
He last played for South African side Jomo Cosmos before calling time on his career.