When you listen to the Kevin–Prince Boateng apologists, you will think he is Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo rolled into one. You will think that in Cairo he will take Egypt apart on his own, sink Uganda in Kampala by playing everywhere on the field and dazzle in Brazzaville. You will think he will be superman for Ghana at the Nations Cup in Gabon too. Ghana needs him, we are told. Some say he will improve the Black Stars because his experience is priceless, because there is no one like him.
A lot of that is hot air and follows the general trend of classic exaggeration that has underlined the fuss about him and continues to pop up every now and then. This idea that Boateng somehow is the missing piece in Ghana’s qualification jigsaw also ignores the player’s history with Ghana.
On the football front you can count the number of good games he has played with Ghana on one hand. As a football player whether with club or country, there has been little to suggest he is worth the special treatment that those queuing to remind us how important he is want us to buy into. And off the football field, the baggage that he has demonstrated he carries is not worth what he brings to bear on the team.
Six years ago in Milton Keynes he made his Ghana debut against Latvia and was honest enough to suggest he was wearing the colours of Ghana because Germany said no to him. He had, he said made a decision with his head not his heart and promised to fall in love. It has never happened. Instead he has behaved like the friend who picks up a phone to call you when he is desperate need, uses your influence or help and then disappears without a trace, tells everyone how weak you are and then pops up another day with a request because he or she knows you think he is special.
In the six years that Boateng has been a Ghana international he has played in two world cups. In both cases he has emerged when it was all set and cooked. And in that period he has done little to disguise the selfish reasons that drives his status as a Ghanaian international.
In a way everyone who represents the national team does it for selfish reasons. It enhances their careers, helps them fulfil a personal embition and in the case of Black Stars players helps their bank balance. But we care more about those who wear their heart on their sleeve whether in a world cup stadium or a Nations Cup qualifier. And if a player is in it exclusively for selfish reasons which then messes up the collective good, we would have a right as a nation to say to that player enough is enough.
Boateng has never hidden his selfish streak and motivation. In September he explained to FIFA TV why he played for Ghana.
“I needed a change and a door opened for me with Ghana. It was very important for me since I had not been to Ghana myself. It also gave me the opportunity to play in the world cup with Ghana, something I didn’t want to miss because I realised there was not a lot of interest in me on the German side.”
Germany didn’t want him so when the opportunity opened up with Ghana to play in the world cup he took it. No big deal. No surprise too then that the moment the world cup ended Boateng just lost interest. A year after that he retired from international duty, telling the Ghana Football Association that he could not combine the twin demands of club and international football.
It seemed to have worked fine. Things were going great at AC Milan until another world cup beckoned. All of a sudden Boateng discovered his appetite for Ghana again. The world cup was around afterall. He pitched up in Brazil as the alpha male, expecting to play in every game without putting the effort in. When he lost his place in the first game hell broke lose. He got his chance in the second game and played horribly against Germany. So much for a player who makes a significant difference. Then he flew into a rage and was sent home.
He has been on indefinite suspension since but the signs are that he fancies a return. And there are no prizes for guessing why he wants to come back. The reason is rooted in the classic K.P Boateng self centered book.
“It is for every player a big dream to play a World Cup. If there would be a chance to play a third world cup I would not say no,” he told CCTV Africa. “There are not a lot of players who can say they played in three world cups.
Even then he beats on about being the victim and claims he did nothing wrong. It is not the way we see it. The commision of inquiry into our Brazil fiasco did not see it that way. The white paper on the findings even suggested he should not be allowed back in.
There are ways around this. It is possible Boateng will feel sorry if a world cup beckons and pen a fake apology to force his way back in.
It will surely please those immersed in this false belief that he will be a significant addition. Former Ghana captain C.K Akunnor claims “We need quality and experienced players to play for the national team and without doubt, Kevin is one of them.”
Former Ghana Football Association president Alhaji Jawula weighed in too. “If you look at our performance against Uganda, there is a lot of concern about the state of our national team,” he said. “For both Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari, the time has come when they should really be called-up.
The idea of how good Boateng is and how his ‘quality’ is needed is intriguing. So just how did anyone arrive at the conclusion? Off the back of eight games this season and four goals for Las Palmas? Or off the back of his 15 games for Ghana and the two goals that he has scored in six years as a Black Star? Is this the quality we so badly lack at the moment? We must be a miserable team now then.
Against Uganda we were worried about our lack of quality. Lately we have moaned about players lacking commitment in the Black Stars. Anyone genuinely believes that a player who in the past skips a nations cup game qualifier in Congo claiming to be injured only to show up days later for a friendly against England will be an upscale in commitment.
A player’s character becomes an insignificant factor when he has insane talent. Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Cantona for Manchester United. You ignore the baggage they come with because they make up for it with the moment of magic that they demonstrate not in passing phases but on an almost weekly basis. But you don’t tolerate a player who hardly wants to play and sparkles in bits even when he has demonstrated his talent for causing confusion and poisoning team spirit is more potent than delivering on the football field.
So anyone genuinely believes this ‘quality and experienced Boateng’ will be committed to a game in Kampala and Brazzavile all of a sudden when in his Black Stars career he has played less than three games away from home purely as a choice and a reflection of his inner selfishness.
If this is the quality and experience we need now in the Black Stars, then the Lord rescue us because we are doomed.
By Michael Oti Adjei