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Player Profile: Ariza Makukula  

Ariza MakukulaFull name: Ariza Makukula

Position: Forward

Date of Birth: 4 March 1981

Birthplace: Kinshasa, Congo


Likeable striker Ariza Makukula has had an unconventional up-and-down career so far. The powerful forward now finds himself plying his trade in Turkey, but will still feel that if the goals start flowing he is in with a chance of becoming a regular member of the Portugal set-up.

Sebastiao Lazaroni, the player’s coach at Maritimo, had no doubts that the striker could earn a regular place in the Portugal national team during a purple patch in 2007. “His call-up to the national team is the result of his exemplary attitude towards work. He has excellent characteristics as a box player. He’s extremely tall, is a real threat in the air and strikes the ball well with both feet.

“With wingers of the calibre of Simao, Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, there is no doubt Makukula can be a big asset to Portugal.”


Curiosity
Makukula could well make himself a vital part of Portugal’s national team in the coming years despite the fact that in the recent past he vowed he would represent the nation of his birth – the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“When I was badly injured and was having a tough time of it I visited my parents in Congo. I received fantastic support from the Congolese Football Federation and felt that people there liked me – that’s why I said I wanted to play for them,” explains the striker. However, FIFA regulations prohibited his wish from becoming reality as he had already played for Portugal at U21 level.


Early success


Born in Kinshasa, Congo, the son of a professional footballer who had a modest career in Portugal, Makukula started out a youth player for Guimaraes, but at just 19 years of age he emigrated to Spain to play for Salamanca. After a short loan at Leganes, 2001/02 was his breakthrough season as he scored no fewer than 21 times for Salamanca, and his exploits led to an immediate call-up to the Portugal U21 squad.

After a brief spell at Nantes at the start of the 2002/03 season, Makukula returned to Spain were he was loaned to Valladolid. Eight goals in double quick time were enough to persuade Sevilla to snap up the forward.

Sevilla woe


However, things went downhill fast in Andalusia. Makukula was plagued by a series of serious injuries, playing just 13 matches and scoring a solitary goal in two unhappy seasons. An equally fruitless spell on loan at Tarragona (10 matches, 1 goal), appeared to definitively dash his ambitions of making a name for himself in the game.

The player decided to try and resurrect his career with a loan spell back in Portugal at Maritimo. The move bore immediate fruits as the goals flowed, shooting Makukula to the top of the Bwin Liga goalscoring charts early in 2007/08 and fuelling the strongest start to many a season by the Madeira club, and a subsequent call-up to the Portugal national team.

His magnificent form convinced Benfica to splash out 3.5m euros for the big target man in the January transfer window. But the yo-yo nature of Makukula's career was exemplified again as he endured a nightmare 18 months at the Estadio da Luz, rarely playing, before going on an unsuccessful loan spell to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers.

A new start beckoned at the beginning of the 2009/10 season, as Makukula took the challenge of switching to the Turkish league, signing for Kayserispor. The early signs have been encouraging with the striker rediscovering his goal-touch in his first games for his latest club.

International explosion


While enjoying a short family vacation in Belgium the striker thought he was a victim of a joke when he was contacted and instructed to fly out to Kazakhstan to join the Portugal squad during the crucial run-in to their stuttering Euro 2008 campaign.

But the powerful striker was in no mood for joking when handed his senior debut. With the Portuguese struggling to break down a well organised Kazakhstan defence for a much-needed win, Makukula was thrown on with 30 minutes of the match remaining.

The forward made an immediate impression and had already twice come close to scoring before heading a Quaresma cross into the net with less than 10 minutes remaining to spark huge relief among the Portuguese players and coaching staff and set up what ultimately proved to be a decisive 2-1 victory.

by Tom Kundert (last updated 02/09/2009)
Comments (2)
Talented.
2 Sunday, 16 May 2010 01:55
'Riza is highly dedicated to the game...hope to see more of you on the field...and looking forward to meeting you. Just wondering if you made the SA 2010's list.
@Kayserispor
1 Tuesday, 30 March 2010 15:52
He is a player of Kaysersipor and he is currently scored 18 golas in Turkish Suprer League and leader of goal scorers table. (30.03.2010)

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