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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Ikpeba rejects Saints for Betis
A rare happy moment at Dortmund for Ikpeba
A rare happy moment at Dortmund for Ikpeba
By BBC Sport Online's Martin Roberts

Victor Ikpeba is trying to revive his career at club and international level with a season-long loan at Spanish side Real Betis.

The Nigerian striker has sealed his move from Germany's Borussia Dortmund, and dealt a blow to English Premiership side Southampton.

Ikpeba told BBC Sport Online: "I was aware of Southampton's interest, and I was supposed to go there for a few days next week.

"It would have been easier for me to go there because I already speak the language, but then Betis came in for me."

The deal will end a torrid time for Ikpeba in Germany. He only scored twice in his first season, and hardly played last year after falling out with hard-line coach Matthias Sammer.

No way back

Ikpeba criticised his team-mates as selfish and money-grabbing, and Sammer's response was to drop him from the side.

Ikpeba's 'missed' penalty cost Nigeria the 2000 Nations Cup
Ikpeba's 'missed' penalty cost Nigeria the 2000 Nations Cup
With Dortmund having paid big money for Brazilian star Marcio Amoroso and giant Czech Jan Koller, there looked to be no way back for Ikpeba.

He said: "I need to play if I am going to have any chance of appearing at the World Cup finals next year.

"I have not had a fair chance of playing time at Dortmund, and I need to start afresh at Betis, who are willing to give me a chance."

The 28-year-old was a big hit at Liege in Belgium and then moved to Monaco, where he was a frequent scorer and was voted CAF Player of the Year in 1997 after his goals helped win the French title.

Penalty anguish

A 4.8m move to Dortmund followed but his career turned sour at club and international level.

Ikpeba missed the penalty in the 2000 Nations Cup final against Cameroon which cost his side the title.

His shot hit the bar and actually bounced behind the line, but the referee refused to count it.

Since then, Ikpeba has not featured for the Super Eagles because of his severely limited playing time in the Bundesliga.

At promoted Betis, he could link up with AC Milan's German striker Oliver Bierhoff, who is also set to reject Southampton because they cannot meet his wage demands.

See also:

03 Aug 01 |  Africa
Oliseh caught up in row
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