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Ekstein: How Essien Helped Me Ditch The Kasi Flava

During his days as a Kaizer Chiefs player, Hendrick Ekstein was the epitome of ‘kasi flavour’ regularly digging into his bag of tricks; however, the midfield maestro got rid of the tricks and flicks thanks to Chelsea legend Michael Essien.

Ekstein is currently on the books of AmaZulu, who he joined in September last year following his two-year stint in Azerbaijan.

The 30-year-old says he is not the same player that left Mzansi shores two years ago after mutually terminating his Amakhosi, revealing how his European adventure has seen his game mature.

“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.

Pule revealed how the Bison who was his teammate at Sabah FK encouraged him to maintain the flair in his game - although it needed to be used more effectively in ways that would benefit the team.

“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 coach Benni McCarthy’s side this season.

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