Former Everton striker Daniel Amokachi says "warrior" Oumar Niasse has shown immense mental strength to fight his way into Sam Allardyce's first XI.
Niasse scored four goals on loan at Hull City in the second half of last season before returning to Goodison Park to establish himself an integral part of the Blues squad.
The Senegal international striker is averaging a goal every 120 minutes in the Premier League this season – he has netted seven top-flight goals in total in 2017/18 – and his contribution has been an important factor in Everton climbing the table.
And ex-Nigeria international ace Amokachi – who scored 14 goals in 54 games for the Toffees after joining from Club Brugge in July 1994 – insists Niasse’s work-rate and desire have been key to his Everton resurgence.
“Whether he starts, or comes on for two minutes or five minutes, you know how he is – he is a warrior,” Amokachi told evertonfc.com
“When you play for a club like Everton, no matter how you are playing, you have to try to contribute and give 100 per cent whenever you get the call. I had a spell at Everton when it was not going so well, but you still try to die for the team. I think that is what the Evertonians appreciate most.”
Amokachi also hailed Niasse’s resolve and determination to continue putting himself in goalscoring positions – which the 45-year-old claims are essential traits for any forward.
“If you get a chance and don’t hit the back of the net, then you forget it and focus on the next chance,” said Amokachi. “That is what makes Harry Kane one of the best number nines in the world. You remember the game against Liverpool at Anfield [when Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 with Liverpool earlier this month] – he missed a penalty, another one came in the last minute and he took it and scored. That is the kind of spirit Oumar has, and that is what you want to see from a striker.”
After hitting a brace in the 1995 FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur, on the way the Blues lifting the trophy, Amokachi became something of a Goodison cult hero.
Niasse has developed a similar relationship with the Everton fans, which Amokachi believes owes to the character he has shown in battling his way into the first team.
“That tells you a lot about the human being he is, the man that he is, and the player he is," said Amokachi. "I think the Evertonians love that, and that is why they are embracing him.
“You can see he loves playing for Everton. He is a player that never frowns, he is smiling every time you look at his face.”
Niasse’s brilliant form has been a factor in fellow forward Cenk Tosun being forced to wait for his chance to make his mark for the Blues. As someone who also played in Turkey – Amokachi left Everton for Tosun’s former club Besiktas in 1996 – he is well versed in the cultural contrasts between the Premier League and the Turkish top flight.
“It’s a different way of life when it comes to football,” said Amokachi. “For a player who is not used to the pace and the demands of the Premier League, it is tough.
“But he is a goalscorer, definitely. I saw a couple of clips of the team in Dubai and he is working hard. I am sure that will help him and the whole team.”
Amokachi believes Everton’s future is bright under manager Allardyce, and expects the Club to secure a top-10 finish this season – an impressive feat when you consider the Blues were two points above the relegation zone when the new boss watched November’s 4-0 win over West Ham United prior to his appointment. Everton are now just two points behind Burnley in seventh place going into Saturday’s clash at Watford.
And Amokachi feels the Club has the right ingredients to become a Premier League force.
“I think Sam has brought in defensive organisation, which the team needed,” said Amokachi.
“Do we have quality? Yes. Do we have talented young players? Yes. And do we have a manager with a winning mentality? Yes.“