Richmond Boakye relishing Champions League bow
Richmond Boakye will make his Champions League bow with Red Star Belgrade against Napoli on Tuesday, and the Ghana forward is determined to make the most of the opportunity ahead of him.
The 25-year-old rejoined Red Star Belgrade on a two-year loan deal from Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning earlier this month, with the prospect of continental competition a key factor in his return.
Red Star have returned to the group stage for the first time since 1991, and Boakye is determined to thrive on the grandest stage in European club football. "It is a big platform for any player," he told KweséESPN. "I grew up watching some African greats on TV play in [the Champions League] and wanted to be a part of it.
"Finally, the day is here, so I hope I can give off my best and remember my Champions League experience for a good reason one day."
Boakye warmed up for his big day with two goals and an assist for Red Star in his first match since returning to the club as FK Radnik Surdulica were dispatched 6-0 in the Serbia Super Liga on Saturday.
Those two goals adds to a superb run of goalscoring form for the Serbians.
He scored 39 in two seasons before departing for China and already had 15 at the halfway stage of the Serbian season.
Seven of his goals came in the Europa League, but six of them were in qualifying, and only one in the group stage.
"I want to score as many goals as possible against the best sides in Europe, and we are in a group with some really great teams," he said.
"Liverpool, PSG and Napoli are the sort of teams that should excite any player, and I am definitely looking forward to playing against them."
Boakye is also excited at the prospect of Red Star ending their exile from the top table, with the Serbian giants never reaching the group stages since they won the European Cup in 1991. "It's good for the image and reputation of the club that we are back on the biggest stage in club football so many years after winning it."
"For Serbian football too, this is a positive statement," he concluded. "Now we have to show that we belong to that stage and play as well as we can."