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Okaka makes his mark

Published: Saturday 13 February 2010, 9.32CET
In the first in UEFA.com's series on the rising stars of the European game, we shine the spotlight on Stefano Okaka Chuka, Fulham FC's on-loan AS Roma striker.

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Published: Saturday 13 February 2010, 9.32CET

Okaka makes his mark

In the first in UEFA.com's series on the rising stars of the European game, we shine the spotlight on Stefano Okaka Chuka, Fulham FC's on-loan AS Roma striker.

Name: Stefano Okaka Chuka
Club: Fulham FC (on loan from AS Roma)
Debut: 29/09/05 v Aris Thessaloniki FC (UEFA Cup)
Position: forward
Nationality: Italian
Date of Birth: 09/08/89

Born in Italy but of Nigerian descent, Okaka was brought to Roma's attention in 2004 by club legend Bruno Conti, then head of the Giallorossi youth system. Powerful and strong in the air, Okaka is also blessed with good technique so is comfortable playing as a target man or in support of another forward. The hard-working Okaka spent time on loan at Serie B sides Modena FC and Brescia Calcio to sharpen his finishing skills.

That appeared to have paid off when the Under-21 international bid goodbye to Roma fans a day before joining Fulham on loan in January by scoring a beautiful back-heeled goal in added time to secure victory against AC Siena. Fulham knew him well after he scored the winner against them for Roma in a UEFA Europa League fixture in November. He scored his first goal for the Londoners on 14 February in a 4-0 FA Cup victory against Notts County FC.

Breakthrough game
SSC Napoli 0-3 AS Roma
08/12/2005 Coppa Italia
Okaka made history when he became the youngest Italian player to appear in European competition when he made his Roma debut against Aris in September 2005. Three months later he did so again when he became the youngest player to score in the Coppa Italia, a 3-0 win at Napoli. Okaka, who had just come on as a substitute, used all his strength to fight off two defenders to collect a long punt forward. He then burst into the Napoli area, fended off another challenge and fired in a precise low shot.

He says: "It was fantastic to score a winning goal just before leaving for London because I wanted to give a present to my team-mates and the Roma fans. It's incredible scoring in front of the Curva Sud. I will remember De Rossi screaming behind me: 'How did you do it? How did you do it?' It was a nice goal, but it doesn't mean I'm a champion. It was pure instinct. It was the only way I could hit the ball and fortunately it went in."
Okaka on his back-heeled winner against Siena on 31 January

They say: "We are good friends, he is a great guy. He will become a great player, he just needs to play. He is very strong, like Luca Toni. He has fantastic technical skills and is physically very strong – and he is just 20 years old. He needs to play at Fulham, and he will become a great striker."
Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi speaking to UEFA.com in February 2010

Last updated: 27/11/12 4.40CET

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