Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been speaking to The People newspaper in an attempt to clear his name after his disgraceful tackle during the week. Millions of viewers saw Liverpool’s Didi Hamann lunged at by the Chelsea player during the game, in a tackle that Didi described as the worse he’d ever been on the receiving end of. The tackle wasn’t seen by the officials, and now UEFA have stepped in the charge the player, who insists he’s innocent.
The 23-year-old, who committed a similar tackle in the league earlier in the season, said: “I’m not a violent player. I was not trying to injure Hamann and the referee understood that. That is why he didn’t punish me as many people are asking that he should have.” In fact the statement from UEFA claims that the referee did not punish Essien because he didn’t see what he had done.
Didi said after the game he was lucky he’d not broken his leg, and was unable to take part in yesterday’s win over Middlesbrough. Essien claims it was a clumsy challenge rather than a malicious one: “It was a lunge for the ball, it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to get the player. I’m not someone who tries to break people’s legs but football is a man’s game, played with power and force. It’s not ballet.”
Essien continued trying to explain it away: “There are always tough challenges on the pitch but the worst ones are usually the result of bad luck more than anything else. A lot of people who don’t know me are thinking I’m some sort of savage on the pitch. That hurts more than the sanction. I have to accept UEFA’s decision but it is unjust.”
Essien reportedly apologised to Hamann in a telephone call a couple of nights ago, but his comments about UEFA’s decision being “unjust” seem to contradict that. In phoning Didi he’s claiming to be sorry for causing a minor injury, thankful it wasn’t a major one, yet unwilling to accept that his actions deserve punishment. He makes it clear how annoyed he is with the charge when he says: “I don’t agree with re-refereeing a game after it has happened, it just produces more controversy.”