[ 2011-12-07 ]
Flight from Portsmouth to Milan: With love from Kevin-Boateng
From Portsmouth; in the south coast of England,
specifically the second largest city in the
ceremonial county of Hampshire, he has risen to
the swanky and famous European Italian city of
Undoubtedly for him, was a quantum leap in his
chosen trade: i.e. football.
Who? Kevin Prince Boateng. The man who was lauded
and applauded by most Ghanaians for his decision
to revoke his German nationality in order to
represent the West African nation of Ghana on the
rectangular green field where football is played.
The former Hertha Berlin, Borussia Dortmund and
Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder had overnight become
a hit amongst soccer pundits and commentators,
many of whom were predicting that Kevin was the
ample replacement for then injured Michael
Beyond the word of pundits, administrators and the
average soccer lover from Axim to Zabzugu Tatale,
Cape Three Points to Paga and towns, villages and
communities dotted therein hailed his exploits in
the Black Stars jersey.
Here was a player whose passion on the field was
hardly hidden, his commitment once he had
possession was unquestionable, not to talk of his
overall contribution to the team effort on any
His coming was long waited and he was given a
hero’s welcome even though he was yet to play a
game infront of the millions of Ghanaian fans who
held him in high esteem and rated him very highly
from what they saw of him on the television
Fast forward events to sometime last month and
that same man, is being vilified left, right and
center; for the simple reason that he is unable to
continue playing for the Black Stars.
Contentiously so, the team that gave him the
platform on which to rise to an European football
powerhouse as AC Milan.
At the time that Kevin decided to play for the
Black Stars, his team Portsmouth had just lost the
English FA Cup to Chelsea; with KP Boateng missing
a penalty in the said game.
As if that was not enough, his tackle on then
Chelsea midfielder, Michael Ballack, ruled the
German international out of the 2010 World Cup to
the chagrin of German football fraternity.
With the FA Cup finals over and with the World Cup
looming, Boateng was not under any consideration
going to make the German national team albeit
having represented them at youth level, more so
having injured and ruled Ballack out of the
With Portsmouth heading towards the second tier of
English football, the Championship, any player
without national team commitment would most likely
have taken some holidays to rest and sort out
their futures away from the team or wait till
after the World Cup to start training.
Kevin switched nationality (German – Ghanaian) and
joined the Black Stars in camp ahead of the World
Cup in South Africa.
In South Africa, he appeared by far to be the most
involved player in the Ghana team with his crunch
tackles, surging runs into opponents area, great
passing of the ball and urging the other players
Essien’s absence had paled into thin air.
In a midfield that comprised Kwadwo Asamoah, Andre
Dede Ayew, Anthony Annan and Kevin, Ghana held
took charge of the game, four years after the
Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and
Asamoah had done similar during World Cup 2006 in
Kevin had won the hearts of many by the way and
manner in which he played his heart out, but it
was only a matter of time before he was going to
be given the flack, if his commitment level fell
below the expectation of the average lover of the
Reference is to the Essien episode, on which topic
I have stated unequivocally that no one man can
hold a team as the Black Stars ‘hostage.’
Having said that, a platform alone is not enough
but a person’s performance on that platform stands
In the specific instance of KP Boateng, Ghana via
the Black Stars gave him the World Cup platform on
which he exhibited qualities that hitherto would
have been left to waste in lower football
Post SA 2010, when Ghana Football was counting her
gains, a key feature was news that KP Boateng was
the subject of a loan move from then Championship
side, Portsmouth to Italian Serie A side, Genoa.
As if that was not enough, he was to be loaned
immediately to Italian and European football
giants AC Milan for a season with the option of
Boateng’s blistering first season led to a
permanent deal as per his performance in the
league winning side.
As for the reason he (Kevin) has given and the
several other being bandied about as motivation to
quit the team that gave him the platform to rise,
I think the gentleman took his chance and was in
no way bound to continue playing for the Black
The pool of players from which Ghana can on any
day assemble her first eleven players would hardly
ever run dry.
It takes a shorter time for Ghana to replace
midfielders than it takes for us to find a striker
with the quality of Abedi Pele and Anthony Yeboah
in their hey days (and I contend Asamoah Gyan
would admit this).
Kevin must as quickly as possible be consigned to
the history of Ghana Football because more
influential players have either walked out on the
team or resigned but like the proverbial phoenix,
that team has risen from the ashes.
The far reaching implications of Kevin’s actions
are that, many are those who would express
skepticism at the FA’s approach of players of
Ghanaian parentage to switch nationalities and to
serve Ghana Football.
Many a time, these are players who would hardly
make a first-team place in the European sides they
would otherwise have represented.
No need to fret if you ask me; what the fans think
would not necessarily bind the FA in anyway (maybe
significantly as it were).
This piece can hardly be complete without talk of
the club versus country row; which has become a
sticking point between players and the reason for
which African players especially have had to take
the tough decision of choosing either of the two.
Most at times, it is the country that loses out on
the services of the players. The plain reason and
harsh truth being that it is at these clubs that
players are kept in active service.
Not just that, it is these clubs that dish out the
huge sums of weekly salary that are reported in
The former German and Ghanaian international may
have quit the Black Stars but certainly did not,
cannot and must not be seen to have left us in the
cold, rather let us look forward to his
replacement as we gear up for the Cup of Nations
in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
At the turning point of his own history would be
the nine games and one goal that he played and
scored for Ghana and his participation in the
World Cup which catapulted him to winning a major
European League title and the chance to play in
the prestigious European Champions League.
His story from where I stand is a flight from
‘unknown’ Portsmouth to the glamorous and ritzy
streets of Milan.
Ghana’s number 23 shirted man at South Africa
2010, his general demeanor when he appealed for a
penalty against Serbia and his surging run and
stunning goal against the United States in the
quarter-finals would lie on, as would be his
celebration after the strike.
The bigger question in my view is; with the advent
of coming out of international retirement, should
Ghana accept his back if he asks to return to the
side in the lead up to the Cup of Nations next
month (Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012?).
On behalf of Kevin Prince Boateng: Pompey to
Source - Abdur Rahman Shaban Alfa
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