Monday, 06 April 2020 20:39

Emmanuel Osei Kuffour: Ghana’s Mr Versatile Regarded By Many As The Best Footballer In The Premier League Era Featured

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The nascence of club football in Ghana has led to the discoveries of great and talented footballers who in their respective careers etched their names in football folklore. 
Discussions at football concourses can’t end without the mentioning of stalwarts like Mohammed  Polo, Abdul Razak, Peter Lamptey, Dogo Moro George Alhassan, Baba Yara, Anas Seidu, Opoku Afriyie, Opoku Nti just to mention but a few.
These and many others have made indelible imprints in their exploits.
The Ghanaian Premier League has borne witness to a plethora of stars who have lit up stadiums across the country since the days of yore. Some have walked away with a haul of medals and awards, whilst others may not have been as successful, yet their individual ability is what set them apart from the rest.
But for every superstar and club in the league, there are always players who fail to hog the headlines despite being an invaluable member of their side. All in all these players deserve to be recognised for their talent, perseverance and sheer ability to go on doing their job with the same motivation despite not having being rated aptly for their talent.
The talk among the chattering classes is that, no footballer comes closer to the mercurial Emmanuel Osei Kuffour in Ghana’s domestic league over the last two decades. Many good players have grasped at greatness and many have held on to it for a short time but not ‘The General’ a moniker accorded Emmanuel Osei Kuffour later in his career.
Noticeably quiet and emotionally detached, Kuffour was born in Accra, Ghana’s capital. He spent his youth like a lot of children do, harrowing on Ghana’s grassless parks, learning the names of all the players in the league and those that played for the various national teams. He started learning the ropes at Madina Republicans, then, a third division club in Madina, which he joined at the age of 16.
A host of impressive performances had numerous topflight Ghanaian clubs chasing after his signature. Kuffour ultimately settled on Cape Coast Ebusua Dwarfs with whom he stayed for 3 seasons before joining Accra Hearts of Oak.
Spells with FC Anzhi Makhachkala, Tractor Sazi; Ashantigold SC, Asante Kotoko SC, Power FC, Al- Ittihad Tripoli and a return to Ebusua Dwarfs followed. However, it was Hearts of Oak that got the best out of Kuffour- his brilliance and plethora of goals ensured he became a crucial figure of the team.
In 2000, he was instrumental in taking the Phobians to the finals of the CAF Champions League where faced Esperance of Tunisia.
The Tunisians boasted a number of high-profile players and were tipped to best the Ghanaian side and win the competition. The Phobians won 2-1 in Tunis and were given a shock of their lives when the Tunisians scored the opener in the return fixture in Accra.
Are the Phobians going to miss out a trophy they’ve so long coveted? The supporters present at the stadium and those behind their TV sets sat on tenterhooks for most part of the first half and the early part of the second half as Esperance dominated and dictated the pace of the game much to the dismay of many a Hearts faithful.
The second half saw an improved Hearts side changing the tide to beat their opponents 3-1 with the General scoring two of the goals with Ishmael Addo scoring the other. Everyone was smitten with Hearts of Oak’s startling displays in the CAF Champions League competition, 2000.
The red; yellow and blue shirts, the bright eyed-ebullience with which they embraced the competition, the free- flowing football they played matched the hopefulness of a club reborn. General Kuffour was the symbolic flag bearer of this rising force of nature. He scored ten goals and emerged the top scorer of the competition.
They brushed aside all oppositions to win the coveted trophy that had eluded the club for decades even though they were tagged the ‘Continental Club Masters.’
He gained 31 caps for Ghana and was a member of the Black Stars team at both the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations and also featured in the 1996 Summer Olympics football tournament in Atlanta.
He was a proven winner; he won 1 CAF Champions League title, 1 CAF Super Cup title and a CAF Confederation Cup title. On the local scene, he won 6 league titles (4 at Hearts of Oak and 2 at Asante Kotoko), 2 FA Cups, 1 Ghana Super Cup and a Guinness Gala Championship accolade.
The finesse and imagination with which he placed every shot and every pass with his right foot could have won him gold in a ballet competition. The instep of his boots, if not the epicentre of modern technology in magnetism, could have been the source of paranormal activity, as the control of the football he regularly showed is not something seen in regular humans. 
One noticeable attribute of The General is his versatility. He could play as a defender, midfielder, attacker and as a goalkeeper as witnessed when the Black Stars played the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a FIFA World Cup qualifier- and he never looked out of place or uncomfortable. Equally, he never kicked a fuss over the fact that he may not be playing in his preferred position, instead, he worked tirelessly to help his sides. This attitude mixed with his ability on the ball (and goal threat) makes him a truly outstanding footballer. 
Quite paradoxically, Emmanuel Osei Kuffour never saw himself as an appendage or a footnote in the history Ghana’s topflight division. In interviews, he often emphasised that, to him, it was more of a team than himself.
Emmanuel Osei Kuffour was a mercurial maniac who inspired average players to become good ones and turn mediocre teams to world-beaters.
By: Godfred Budu
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