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Kevin-Prince Boateng was once the darling boy of Ghana football: a fresh-faced good footballer who is returning to his Ghanaian roots to help make the Black Stars great.
The Ghanaian ladies weren’t the only ones excited to see the Germany-born midfield heartthrob when he made his full debut against Latvia in a pre-tournament friendly in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, as football fans in the country had watched him excel in a cup run which saw Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final, where Boateng played a prominent role; missing a penalty and injuring Michael Ballack who would have been an opponent in the World Cup the next month.
The then 23-year-old went on to have an exceptional tournament which included scoring a crucial opener against the United States in the Round of 16, and had seemingly settled seamlessly. The future looked to be very bright for the young Black Star.
Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold, and his Black Star career has waned out considerably since then. Somehow though his name always pops up and every Ghana coach since that 2010 world cup has had to deal with what to do with him.
Kwesi Appiah faced those questions and at his first media interaction, C.K Akonnor discovered the subject won’t just go away.
Akonnor said he had spoken to K.P Boateng and that he doesn’t get a sense he still wants to play for Ghana. Boateng in a response to sports journalist Gary Al Smith admits he spoke to Akonnor but says they didn’t speak a lot about a return. So there was a conversation.
This ambiguous statement leaves the door to his potential return to the national team open it seems but should he be brought back to the Black Stars and is there a strong sporting case to back a return?
In 14 games for Fiorentina in the Italian Série A this season, he managed to score just once with a grand total of zero assists. He has fared better for Besiktas since moving to Turkey in January however, scoring twice in four games, leaving him with a total of three goals and zero assists in eighteen games this season.
In his position for the Black Stars are captain Andre Ayew and precocious prodigy Mohammed Kudus. Ayew has eleven goals and five assists for Swansea in 32 games this season, and Kudus has also managed nine goals and an assist in the same number of matches as Kevin-Prince Boateng (18).
Coaches like to have all hands on the sporting case to pursue the prodigal son again for Black Stars doesn’t seem to be as strong as it was previously.
Then there is the case of how everything in the past legitimately leaves questions open about whether he is worth the chase at all given everything that has happened previously.
After his heroics at the World Cup, he immediately showed a lack of commitment which has become synonymous with his name, by announcing his retirement from international football at the age of 23 to focus on his club duties.
Ghanaians felt played, but were still proud of him when he secured a big money move to AC Milan and starred as an advanced playmaker or ‘trequartista’ in his first season at the club, winning the league.
He followed this up with an excellent second season at the club, with 9 goals and 6 assists from midfield in just 27 appearances. Ghana made efforts to call him up for the 2012 AFCON but to no avail.
He took the famous A. C Milan shirt previously worn by legends such as Franco Baresi, Ruud Gullit and Roberto Baggio after Clarence Seedorf’s retirement for the 2012/13 season in which he scored a memorable goal in the Round of 16 first leg against Barcelona. Black Stars management reached out to him again asking him to feature in the 2013 AFCON, but he turned down their advances yet again.
In 2014, however, with the World Cup just around the corner and KPB’s club performances declining, he decided to make himself available for Black Stars selection again for the second leg of the final World Cup qualifier against Egypt, a tie in which we already led 6-1.
He was called up, and he tapped in a meaningless consolation goal against the Pharaohs in Cairo as we sailed through to the main tournament in Brazil. He was among the 23 players selected for the World Cup when the names were called out by head coach at the time Kwesi Appiah.
His second stint at international football for Ghana at the World Cup was nowhere near as good as the first, and he put in two egregious displays against the USA and his nation of birth Germany. He was kicked out of camp after the latter, and he was reported to have had a bust up with coach Kwesi Appiah.
He retired from international football yet again and that looked to surely be that. Maybe Akonnor and Ghana football fans should simply accept that is that.
By Nene Afadzinu
The writer is an intern at TV3.