I know it feels like a lifetime ago, but close your eyes and try to remember just how good Abednego Tetteh used to be. The Hearts forward was a ball of energy, industry and determination, with a spark and talent that could simply win matches on its own.
The forward grew into his Bechem United career, posting the best numbers in his final full season with the club. That was 12 league goals and five assists in 22 appearances in the 2016/17 league season, if you were wondering.
Those statistics deserve extra credit when you consider just how average Bechem United were in his last years at the club, and how much of their success was down to his individual brilliance. He was very instrumental in Bechem United’s FA Cup triumph season.
But that's where the Abednego Tetteh story takes a turn. From action hero to Greek tragedy, the 30-year-old has suffered a monumental fall from grace ever since he left Bechem United. The decline began with a move to Al Hilal Omdurman, and with all the talk surrounding whether he'd justify the astronomical wages he was receiving, the forward seemed set up for failure from the off. He could only feature five times for the Sudanese giants.
Spells with Jimma Aba Buna, Al- Hilal El- Obeid, Real Kashmir and TRAU followed but he still could not repl icate his fine form at all these clubs. Now with Hearts of Oak, Tetteh made such a fanfare of his arrival at the club earlier this year, that it was inevitable if he didn’t immediately live up to expectations, there would be murmurings and discontent. Shameful really.
The poor forward is only 30 years of age, and with the possible exception of the very best to have had a bright start to their Hearts career, is still some way from the player he will become for the Phobians. He isn’t the first Hearts of Oak player to have an inauspicious start to his Hearts career, and he won’t be the last. The likes of Mahatma Otoo, Kwame Kizito and Samuel Affum all struggled to adapt to a new environment.
Kizito, for instance, had a rough two seasons, only to come good with great displays in last season, just as a majority of fans- rather than a minority of ultra-critics-were starting to seriously question him. Leonard Tawiah and Moro Abubakar had a similarly uninspired start to their Hearts careers.
It’s entirely understandable that he’ll be a little rusty upon his return to the country after stints in Sudan and India and keeping things a lot simpler than previously. He needs to feel his way back into the team, finds his level, remains free of further concerns and then explodes into life.
There have been plenty of times where players far more established and far older than Tetteh have needed more time to adapt and a manager with a greater tactical palate to help them.
As was likely to be the case anyway, Hearts won't be spending big in the second transfer window, instead relying on cost-effective deals and nurturing the young and upcoming talent within their ranks. All this will (hopefully) give Tetteh another chance at establishing himself at the club - although he's arguably had few shots to prove himself.
Add into the equation the Phobians’ current attacking predicament and Tetteh will be licking his lips at the prospect of donning the Continental Club Masters' jersey in the second round. Kojo Obeng Jr has been very wasteful with all the opportunities granted him in his over three year stay with the club.
There have also been occasions where Victor Aidoo, Patrick Razak and Isaac Mensah have all fluffed their lines. All of the above signals that the time is right for Tetteh to be gifted an opportunity for the Phobians. He has paid his dues in the Ghanaian topflight division, putting in some sparkling performances along the way and accumulating a wealth of top-flight experience.
Abednego Tetteh still has a role to play in this Hearts side, providing his coach with a plethora of opportunities to introduce him into proceedings from the substitute's bench. And as far as impact subs go, he would be one of the best.
More importantly though, should the Hearts coaches decide to take a chance on him again, it'll show that he has the drive and the heart to get back to the top of Ghanaian football.
Simply put, he's worthy of playing a role for Hearts in the second round, even if that means warming the bench more than he would like. Given the current circumstances, if Tetteh doesn't get an opportunity in Hearts in the second round, then he never will.