Werder Bremen striker Anthony Ujah says that he’s the real victim of the row between his new club and his former side Cologne. The Nigerian had been a cult hero in Cologne before he left under a cloud last summer. English fans might even remember his famed celebrations last season with the club’s goat mascot, Hennes VIII, but his subsequent move to fellow Bremen angered Cologne’s fans.
Ujah is adamant that the premature release of a picture by Werder Bremen, a month before the end of the season and with Cologne still not assured of their place in the Bundesliga, aggravated the situation. On the club’s Instagram account, the striker was pictured standing under a sign that read with “100% Werder”.
“I know I cannot turn back the hands of time and I cannot change anything but it all started with this picture,” says Ujah. “[It] put me in a very difficult scene which is not my decision. If I had the power, I can change it but I cannot change it now, so I can understand that they [the Cologne fans] have to direct their anger to someone and I am the only one who’s in the middle – I’m the victim in this.”
Ujah continues: “I just have to accept it and take it as it comes but deep down in my heart, I have no intention of disrespecting the fans or the public of Cologne.”
The striker also admits that the two games against Cologne since his departure in July haven’t helped. Ujah scored the winner in their second round DFB Cup match in October and last weekend, they met once again. With the game at 1-0, he won a contentious penalty for Werder Bremen – a spot kick that Ujah then took and had saved by his ex-colleague Timo Horn.
The game finished 1-1 but the controversy from that penalty has continued with another former teammate, Dominic Maroh. Speaking to Cologne tabloid EXPRESS, Maroh said Ujah had told him that he would have admitted it was not a penalty, had the referee asked him. Ujah though denied this on Saturday and the argument with Maroh has carried on in the German press ever since. Yet, it is the breakdown in his rapport with Cologne that disappoints Ujah the most.
“It hurts so badly to know that my relationship with Cologne is broken. Everyone who knows me very well and is close to me knows how much it hurts. There are players who make a move that don’t care what the people think.”
Ujah explains: “It matters to me but things keep happening and putting me in a more difficult position. Like with the goal against them in the cup and with the situation last weekend about the penalty and everything – this is nothing I ever wished for.”
Now, the Nigerian striker says at Werder Bremen, he’s the happiest he’s been in his football career. It showed too on Wednesday night as he scored his tenth goal of the season in their surprise 4-3 victory at Gladbach in the DFB-Cup. “The trainer team, my team-mates, the fans – they all trust me. That for me is very, very important.”
The team’s form in the Bundesliga has been poor though with Bremen just a point above the bottom three after two wins in their last twelve games. Still, Ujah has defended coach Viktor Skripnik, saying he that has the backing of all the players in the dressing room.
“He’s the reason why I’m here. I had a talk with him and [he has] everything I always wanted from a trainer which is the trust and to understand the way I play because I still have a lot to learn.”
As for his own situation, Ujah is now keen to move on with his career at the club.
“I just need to look forward and just keep going. I knew the day I made the decision to leave Cologne that there would be a lot of anger and disappointment because I know how much they loved me there. At the moment, they seem very angry but I’m under contract here and I’m going to have do my job.”
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