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October 21, 2009 | Feature Article

Viva Feyenoord Viva Adiyiah!

The 17th edition of the Fifa under 20 World cup has just ended. Ghana's brightest spot, Dominic Adiyiah came under the radar of global audiences. In this write up, Obed Boafo traces the journey which began from the white beaches of Gomoa Fetteh, in and out of the scorching sun of Accra through the sandy soils of Kpando, the cold weather of Norway, the gory stains of Rwanda up to Pharaohs land.

When Ghana won the Fifa Under-17 Tournament in Ecuador '95, it was a beautiful sight to behold, mainly due to the exploits of the team Ghana had at the time. A combination of wits, craftiness and sheer display of creativity that had became synonymous with the team, was enough to fix the world's eye on Ghana.

Ghana won the hearts of many, including the global television audience which stayed glued to their television sets to witness some thought provoking and insightful play from young men thought to be just seventeen, nothing more or less. The likes of Captain Emmanuel Bentsil, Awudu Issaka, Bashiru Gambo, Michael Abu and Attakora Ammanianpong were among those who helped in cementing Ghana's authority as a football nation. One other person who scored personal glories apart from that of the team was Coach Sam Arday who invented his own style of formation play known as the multi system; a system of play where the whole team moved in unison. He was hailed as the next big thing to happen to coaching in Ghanaian football.

Like Martin Luther king, Coach Arday also had a dream: to make youth football more prominent and adorable. Five years after the Tokyo experience, came the birth of the Gomoa Fetteh Feyenoord Academy, an idea fuelled by Feyenoored Rotterdam in Amsterdam of which Arday became part. Situated in the Central Region of Ghana, the academy became the beehive of many young people who saw the Fetteh platform as just perfect a tool to launch their professional careers.

One of those young men who become part of the experience was Dominic Adiyiah. The academy also harboured other talents like Kumasi Asante Kotoko's Jordan Opoku, Black Stars defender Harrison Afful, Edmund Owusu Ansah, Sharif Danladi both of Hearts of Lions and an endless list of footballers who trace their roots to the Fetteh set up. From the beaches of Gomoa, in and out of the scorching sun of Accra up to the high seas of the Volta Region of Ghana, Adiyiah has really made true, a testament of an unrefined gold that is exhumed from complete oblivion, refined and fine tuned; which could eventually find its place in the hearts of many. Under the tutelage of coaches Sam Arday, Nii Adu Sackey and Oti Akenten, Adiyiah has since the Fetteh experience , grown into a modern day footballer. For those who have followed his exploits, his current form for both club and country, doesn't come as a surprise. One of such people is Coach Sam Arday.

“He is a talented and brilliant player. What you are seeing him display, is just one of many to follow. If the Adiyiah I saw at a very young age lives up to expectation then, the world should expect more”.

Adiyiah's pace and speed on the ball, coupled with his penchant for scoring goals just when they are needed has won him many hearts throughout a playing career that saw him move from Feyenoord to Kpando Hearts of Lions in 2006. In the 2006/2007 Premier League, he made 24 appearances for Lions scoring 11 goals in the process. His performance in the league, won him the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award that same year.

The dream of every young player is to play professional football abroad and this came to fruition for Adiyiah when he joined the Norwegian giants Fredrikstad in August 2008. Though he has made just few appearances, including a Europa league (formerly Uefa Cup) clash for his side, his current shape is sure to send signals to his employers that after all, he is not a second hand material.

The 20 year old born, was on target on those few occasions he played for the national team prior to the just ended tournament; a typical example was an audacious goal scored in Ghana's clash against Niger in a qualifier to the African Youth Championship, Rwanda 2009 at the Ohene Djan Stadium. Just when Ghana most needed it, Adiyiah scored a classic goal as perfect as it was classic. In Rwanda he had a disappointing tournament, at least by his own standards, but showed flashes of a team player. “In Rwanda, the coach gave me a different role and made me more of a team player than a goal scorer, so I found myself contributing more to the team”.

The past certainly doesn't matter now to Adyiah as Egypt 2009 seems to be, the much needed pick- me-up as he impressed throughout the tournament. The scouts as usual have started negotiating on behalf of clubs, for a way out of the Norwegian fairytale. This is certainly the icing on the cake for a player who has gone through the ranks of football up to the level where he does what is important in football; scoring of goals.

If there is one person who deserves special commendation and praise for Ghana's impressive showing at Egypt, it has to be Adiyiah. In a tournament that saw him score an average goal of one in each match, Adiyiah is certainly Ghana's brightest spot now and in the coming days and months as the January transfer window fast approaches, he is certainly going to be the hottest young talent whom many big spenders of European football will factor when making their cost- benefit analysis.

When Adiyiah moved to Fedrikstad in 2008, it cost them just around a paltry 100,000 Euros of which Hearts of Lions were the beneficiary. The stakes after Egypt is high and Lions alongside Fedrikstad stand to gain from an onward transfer. Adiyiah's fee certainly is going to cost some six figures. Clubs will have to dole out that much to get his services as his current club Fedrikstad won't allow him to go just like that.

Whichever team gets to officially land his services in the days to come would have made a very good decision. If you have in your team, a player who scores to ensure progression, it certainly shouldn't be a bad buy. He obviously knows what lies in his search for the ultimate in Europe and how big a platform it is.

“I'm looking to show what I can do and progress as a player…No one wants to regress. I want to play at the highest level and become one of the best in the world. Over the years, I've had the chance to watch some great players and I've been happy for them, I just want to be one of them too."

Whoever identified Adiyiah at that unripe stage must have done him a lot of good. Adiyiah knows how the journey was made less tiring even in abstract terms through the efforts of his coaches at the Gomoa Fetteh Feyenoord Academy.

It's been a long journey from Accra to Gomoa, Kpando, Rwanda and Egypt. Adiyiah knows how well he has improved as a player. But he will certainly give thanks to the system he benefited from the vision of Coach Sam Arday. The struggle for fame and recognition is gradually opening up for a young man who just asked for one thing: a starting line up in his school team. Today he is getting more than he asked for. Being on a fat salary that surely changes the lives of his entire family is worth the toil and pain he endured just to, kick a ball!

Obed Boafo
Obed Boafo

The author has authored 11 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: ObedBoafo

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Obed Boafo and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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