Kevin Prince Boateng’s transfer to Barcelona joined an elite list of the most improbable football transfers. From Trevor Francis’ one million pound move to Nottingham Forest in 1979, Mo Johnston’s switch from Celtic to Rangers via Nantes in France to make him one of the few players to have played for both sides of the Old Firm, through to Nicklas Bendtner’s move from Arsenal to Juventus and then most recently, Choupo-Moting’s move to PSG.
All of these were as mind blowing as this one that involves Ghanaian, Kevin Prince Boateng. When the dust settles and he hangs up his boots, he will only look back at his playing career and wonder how all that unfolded for him.
After he broke into the first team at Hertha Berlin, he moved to London to play for Spurs where many in Germany at the time believed his career could kick off remarkably. It didn’t happen for him there though as he had very little playing time so he moved on to play on loan in his home country for Dortmund. He made a good name for himself there at the time but financial constraints of the club meant they could not secure his services. Boateng moved back to England this time on the south Coast where he played for Portsmouth. His time at Fratton Park was hugely successful – leading them to the FA Cup final which they lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
The scenes of Chelsea winning the cup though were marred by Boateng’s tackle on Ballack that ultimately ruled him out of the World Cup in 2010. Boateng was pilloried so much for that act on the German captain but his brazen personality meant he wouldn’t care so much about what many people had to say to him at the time. The player whose role is mostly confused by many in the game then moved on to join Milan after the World Cup where he won the scudetto. Moves to Schalke 04, Las Palmas, Eintracht Frankfurt and Sassoulo followed until he caught Barcelona’s eye.
Let’s quickly run through a few other Ghanaian transfers that created the same level of buzz and razzmatazz as this one has garnered.
Tony Yeboah to Leeds in 1995
The charismatic striker’s move to Leeds in 1995 was big news. He moved for £3.4 million at the time and his name has become a chorus on the lips of Leeds fans worldwide. “It has always been a dream to play in the Premier League so being here is big for me” Yeboah said in an interview in 1995. He was known for scoring stupendous goals. His goals – one against Liverpool and the other against Wimbledon – won awards for Goal of the month and Goal of the season in that same year. Yeboah scored goals for fun and became a cult hero before leaving Elland Road in 1997.
Samuel Osei Kuffour to Bayern Munich
Kuffour moved from Torino to Bayern Munich in 1993, played for Nurnberg on loan for one full season before breaking through the Bavarian system. His constant appearance in the Bayern setup brought joy to the faces of many Ghanaians and hope to younger footballers who were coming through at the time. Kuffour left Bayern in 2005 after playing a staggering 11 seasons for them and winning several club honours including the UEFA Champions League in 2001.
Michael Essien to Chelsea
Arguably the biggest football transfer of a Ghanaian player in the 21stcentury. On the 14thof August 2005, Chelsea agreed terms with Lyon for £24.4 million for the signature of Ghana’s Michael Essien. After his acquisition, the joy in the country was palpable, a fanbase for the club grew exponentially and the viewership of the English Premier League shot up a hundredfold. Essien’s transfer to Chelsea still remains the most expensive transfer of a Ghanaian player till date.
He later went on to play for European giants, Real Madrid and AC Milan.
Stephen Appiah to Juventus
Appiah’s rise to the top was meteoric. One time he was playing on the streets of Mamprobi, another time at the Accra Sports Stadium and then to the Stadio Friuli all in a space of 2 years. Appiah moved to Parma in the summer of 2000 where he spent 3 years. He spent a season at Brescia where he played alongside current City boss, Pep Guardiola and Italian lynchpin Roberto Baggio. All of this were top accomplishments for a player coming through at that age but it was the move to the mighty Juventus that got all the attention. Appiah struck gold with that move and it was in many ways what propelled him to the sort of international career he had with the Black Stars.
Sulley Muntari to Inter
Sulley’s agent like Kevin’s will be credited with many of his top transfers but the the player’s ability has never been in doubt. How many times do you see a player move from lowly Portsmouth to the bright lights of the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium? Muntari did that with ease. He moved to Inter at a time when the club had turned a corner under Jose Mourinho. He won the scudetto, the Champions league and several other Italian cups. After 2012, his career at the club had seen a downturn so he had to move on to Sunderland before he returned to the Serie A again. This time with Milan.
Kwadwo Asamoah to Juventus
Asamoah is one of Ghana’s finest exports. The man has won many laurels in his time in Italian football and it was all down to that move he got away from Udinese in 2012. Juventus paid 18 million Euros for his services that year beating Arsenal, Milan and Chelsea in the transfer tug of war.
By Yaw Ofosu Larbi
The writer is a sports journalist with Media General (TV3, 3FM, Onua FM, Connect FM & 3news.com)