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19.11.2008 Football News

George Boateng regrets decision on Ghana

By The Statesman

Hull City midfielder George Boateng has learnt to live with the fact that he will never play for Ghana because of a decision he made while a teenager.

Boateng acquired Dutch nationality in a bid to make it easier to get into Feyenoord's first team - a decision with far-reaching consequences.

 "At 15, I had to change my nationality from Ghanaian to Dutch,' he explained.

'At the time there were only three non-European Union residents allowed to play in the first team.' Now 33, he explained: 'I had to change it to give me a better chance of playing at Feyenoord.

'As soon as I changed I played for the Holland Under-16s, then I played for the Under-21s at 19 and captained them for three years. My life was actually in Holland, I never kicked a ball in Ghana, only street football.'

But the thought of playing alongside the richly-talented Stephen Appiah, Sulley Muntari and Michael Essien in the Black Stars engine room is one that struggles to go away.

 'I can"t play for Ghana now. Sometimes I wish it would have been different, because I didn't play that many games for the full Dutch national team, only seven or eight,' he said.

'If I had played 30 games or more for Holland then it would not bother me as much. 'Sometimes I wish that I had played with Appiah and Essien for Ghana, but that is life and you have to get past that.'

Ghana made their World Cup debut in Germany in 2006 and Boateng supported the side as it reached the second round of the tournament.

He said: 'I enjoyed watching them in the World Cup and when I saw Essien recently, we talked about how good it would have been for me to play with them for Ghana.

'But sadly, I will never get that opportunity to do so now. Instead, I have to be happy with being Ghana's biggest fan.'

 Boateng may still be an active player but that has not stopped him thinking about a career in management after he hangs up his boots. And that is something he feels is now as much an option for black players as anyone else.

 'It's great to have a black manager in the Premier League but I don't feel it matters anymore. It's 2008, it was a big thing that Paul Ince got the (Blackburn Rovers) job, but the door is open now,' Boateng added.

'We've just got the first black American president - the chance to succeed is there, you just have to reach out and grab it.'