Michael Essien helped me a lot to become a better player – South Africa midfielder Hendrick Ekstein

Published on: 18 January 2022

South Africa midfielder Hendrick Ekstein has heaped praise on Ghana legend Michael Essien for playing a huge role in his career.

The former Kaizer Chiefs player who currently ply his trade for AmaZulu spent two seasons in Azerbaijan where he played alongside the Chelsea legend.

And according to him, his game changed because of Essien during his stay in Azerbaijan.

“Going to Azerbaijan made me a better player looking at things and the way they play football. The time I was here I was the type of player that wanted to carry the ball five or 10 metres. So, for me that changed because as a number 10, whenever I receive the ball, I need to get the ball and its either I play one or play two quickly because you can’t be carrying the ball all over and doing the dribbling”

“So, for me, I think football has changed and I learnt also from Michael Essien. He helped me a lot to become a better player,” Ekstein told the Siya crew.

He continued that, “Looking at the things that he has achieved, playing alongside someone like Michael Essien is one of those things that as a player you would want to be on his side, and you take his advice because he has been there and done that.

“He is the guy who always wanted to help all players, not only me but everyone he played with. He always emphasized the issue of us African players playing African football and not the football that everybody is playing. So he kept on pushing me to do well and he advised me as a number 10 you must know your surroundings and scan the place and do everything that,” he added.

Ekstein has made seven appearances in all competitions for AmaZulu this season.