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The “little god” who felt “destroyed” by Dortmund



In Monaco, Ikpeba developed into an internationally recognized goalscorer.

With a multitude of titles and scandals under his belt, Victor Ikpeba moved from Monaco to BVB in 1999. There he quickly catapulted himself offside.

“In France you can live as you like – not here. When I came, I had personality, I had a temper and I liked to laugh. They wanted to destroy all of that in order to make me equal to the others. They broke my pride.” In a 2001 interview with the L’Equipe off with BVB. The club with which he was still under contract at the time, mind you.

Michael Meier, then managing director of the Westphalians, pointed out the hostilities of the Nigerian years later in an interview SPOX and Goal rigorously: “That is completely insubstantial. He was treated just as humanly as was the case for all players at Borussia Dortmund.”

The striker, who was only presented two years earlier as a royal transfer from AS Monaco, therefore no longer had a future with the black and yellow. In any case, Ikpeba’s time in Dortmund was marked by scandalous performances. Those responsible knew from the start what they were getting themselves into. But first things first.

It was 1993 when Arsene Wenger, then still in the service of the Monegasques, brought the up-and-coming Ikpeba from the Belgian first division club RFC Liège to the principality. The then 20-year-old was considered a striker with great potential and had just been named the best African player in the Belgian league.

Victor Ikpeba at AS Monaco: Worn by the French football elite

With the French, Ikpeba developed into an internationally recognized goalscorer, surrounded by world stars such as Thierry Henry, Emmanuel Petit, Fabian Barthez and David Trezeguet. With the Nigerian national team he won the gold medal at the 1994 Olympic Games and was crowned African champion in 1996.

Ikpeba was also successful at club and personal level: in 1997 he scored 13 goals to win the French championship and in the same year he was named Africa’s footballer of the year. Ikpeba felt good, both athletically and privately. Whether expensive sports cars, pompous parties or the finest branded fashion – he enjoyed life in glamor to the fullest.

By the late 1990s, however, almost nothing was left of Ikpeba’s sporting glory, and he was making headlines off the pitch. He insulted Wenger’s successor Jean Tigana, with whom he had recently fallen out of favor, as a racist. The accusation: Tigana only prefers him to Henry and Trezeguet because of the world title with France. Ikpeba also offended the national team, accusing those responsible of excluding him because of his tribal affiliation. He also claimed that the Super Eagles were involved in mafia deals and was then suspended.

BVB gets Ikpeba and sends a declaration of war to Bayern

In the summer of 1999, staying in the principality was virtually impossible. At the same time, Dortmund were on the lookout for a new top scorer, as favorite candidate Paulo Sergio from AS Roma was snatched from Borussia’s noses by arch-rival FC Bayern Munich. An event that you didn’t want to let sit – that in turn played into the hands of Ikpeba. So BVB soon presented the Nigerian as a new man. For the services of the 26-year-old, those responsible for the situation at the time dug deep into their pockets. The black and yellow transferred around twelve million marks to the Cote d’Azur.

At the time, people in the Ruhr area were sure that they had signed Ikpeba, one of the biggest names on the market, and a declaration of war was promptly sent to the Bavarian state capital. “Let’s see who got the better striker,” exulted club president Gerd Niebaum at the presentation of the new hope.

Ikpeba’s move to BVB: To be continued

Even the recent incidents in Monaco did not deter the BVB bosses. Rather, they confirmed that they were familiar with such behaviors.

It was to be only a few weeks before people saw themselves taught better. In preparation, Ikpeba appeared in poor physical condition. After not convincing in the first games of the 1999/2000 season, head coach Michael Skibbe dropped him from the starting XI. The professional took this as an opportunity to scold the coach. “I have the feeling that they tricked me,” Ikpeba raged in an interview with the then sports channel DSF: “Maybe the coach has no use for me. Then he should tell me. Then I can try to go somewhere else.”

While Ikpeba said he was worshiped like a “little god” in Monaco, in Dortmund he was “a nobody” without the club’s trust. The expression of dissatisfaction was followed by a fine of 15,000 marks and banishment to the stands for the game against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Although Ikpeba showed a reaction and scored twice against Hansa Rostock in the following week, those who thought they had learned from their mistakes were quickly caught up in reality. A verbal argument with Andreas Möller in the half-time break of the game against Arminia Bielefeld was followed by a physical one in training with Sead Kapetanovic. Ikpeba also clashed with the law and was reported for insulting officials after allegedly expressing allegations of racism during a police check. “They treated me like a hooligan. I don’t know if they would have done the same to a white man,” Ikpeba fumed publicly afterwards.