Rangers put Lamkel Ze on red alert as ‘mad’ Antwerp striker just like Eric Cantona with a streak of Mavericks
He wears the red jersey n ° 7 and his crazy antics have made him the enfant terrible of Belgian football.
And Dieter Van Tornhout admits that is enough to remind him of Eric Cantona when he watches Royal Antwerp bad boy Didier Lamkel Ze.
The ex-man from Kilmarnock told Ranger defenders to use black magic to try to provoke a reaction against the Cameroonian cap on Thursday.
Lamkel Ze missed the first leg of his side’s 4-3 defeat at Bosuilstadion due to a suspension after a red card against AZ Alkmaar in a previous Europa League game.
The 24-year-old received his marching orders after an exuberant goal celebration where he skipped the billboards and climbed the perimeter fence to celebrate with the fans.
He did something similar recently. After scoring against fierce rival Beerschot in the Antwerp derby, he jumped off the pitch and sat in the empty grandstand.
The leader defended his goal celebration and tried to justify it by saying it was in response to the opposition trying to liquidate him.
He said: “A defender from Beerschot told me that I was nowhere in the game and I just said: ‘You will see me when I put the ball in the back of the net.’ A special celebration was therefore necessary.
Lamkel Ze made headlines recently when he showed up at Antwerp training in an Anderlecht gang to protest the club’s refusal to sell him to Greek club Panathinaikos.
That summed up the unpredictability and Van Tornhout believes Gers can use his temper to his advantage – but also warned that he can backfire on the magically capable attacker when he’s at his peak.
The hero of the 2012 League Cup final from Kilmarnock faced the forward during a stint as KV Mechelen’s deputy boss last season and believes that if anyone can help Antwerp win both goals he needs to progress is Lamkel Ze.
The Belgian – who joined Antwerp after leaving Rugby Park – said Sport record : “The big thing for Antwerp is the return from suspension of Didier Lamkel Ze.
“He’s one of the main men in Belgium because he’s a crazy guy but also because he’s an incredible footballer with special skills. It is therefore an additional force for Antwerp.
“He’s a bit like Eric Cantona, although obviously not at the same level as him.
“But you can compare them based on their position and temperament – and Didier also wears the No.7 jersey.
“He’s an amazing player but he’s crazy in his head. He loses the intrigue on so many occasions. As a defender you just need to get mental with him.
“Rangers defenders should try to liquidate him, saying things like ‘you’re not a good footballer’, which happens all the time in football.
“Maybe that way they’ll get a reaction from him, but the other side is if he can put it all aside and have a good day, it’s the Rangers defensemen who will have a problem.
“He scored in the recent derby. It’s like the Belgian equivalent of the Old Firm derby – Antwerp v Beerschot – and after scoring he celebrated by stepping into the grandstand and taking a seat.
“He’s just an unpredictable character but he’s not afraid and will thrive on a stage like Ibrox. He is not fazed by anything – he will seek to show the world what he can do.
“When I was in Mechelen last season, we played against him twice.
“He’s a tall guy but very quick with and without the ball and he’s got amazing skills. They’ll use him in the transitions against Rangers.
Van Tornhout has claimed that Antwerp still hopes for chances of progress after having had some joy against the Gers defense, but knows it is a tall order.
He said: “Rangers have scored four away times so of course it will be difficult, but with Lamkel Ze then they will have a chance.”
His striker colleague Dieumerici Mbokani has not traveled due to an injury and van Van Tornhout believes he is a big miss.
He said: “Mbokani played at Norwich and is suited to the British game, as is Ritchie De Laet who is an experienced player.
“The Rangers did very well in Europe under Steven Gerrard – I also watched them against Standard de Liège – and it’s amazing how many points they have in the league.”
The 35-year-old scored the game-winning goal for Killie against Celtic in the League Cup final but cut his stay in Ayrshire short to return to Belgium to be closer to his terminally ill father.
He revealed how he came up with his name to succeed Alex Dyer, but was told the club wanted experience and went with Tommy Wright. He said: “I left Scotland because of the circumstances.
“Antwerp was the team that wanted me the most, so I went there.
“But he has a rich history in Belgium even though at that time they were in the second level. There wasn’t a lot of money at the club so that’s a big difference from where they are now.
“After I finished playing, I was an assistant coach in Mechelen until a few months ago.
“An agent proposed my name to Kilmarnock but said that due to the position they were in they wanted a more experienced coach. Maybe another opportunity will present itself.