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14.06.2005 Football News

Nii Lamptey returns home

Nii Lamptey returns  home

Former Ghana international Nii Odartey Lamptey is the latest big name African player to return home to play his football.

Nigerian football fans have already seen veterans Rashidi Yekini and Daniel Amokachi playing in their domestic league.

Lamptey has agreed a one year deal to play for Asante Kotoko, returning to the Ghanaian league almost fifteen years after he left as a teenager to play professional football in Europe.

Lamptey told BBC Sport that he had agreed to the Kotoko deal because it will allow him to take care of his business interests in Ghana and still play football.

"I want to be close to the school that I am running here so I agreed to the Kotoko deal," he said.

"In a sporting sense, it was no problem agreeing to the deal because Kotoko is one of the biggest clubs not only in Ghana but Africa."

He also says that the trend of big names returning home at the end of their careers is a good thing.

"I have gathered enormous experience in Europe and Argentina where I played so I hope the players I play with at Kotoko will benefit from that and the fans will enjoy it," he explained.

"I think it is good that African players are encouraged to return to the local scene when they wind up their career.

"In the past many of them will set up base in America and let the vast experience they gathered go to waste.

"I think our football will grow if those players can pass on their experience.

"The problem in Africa is that once you decide to revert home, you are considered a failure."

Asante Kotoko's coach Malik Jabir is convinced that the two-time African champions have made a good purchase.

"I know there are those who will question the wisdom of this deal but Lamptey is one of the biggest names that Ghana has produced and we are happy to have him around," he said

"I hope it will have a good effect on the rest of the team."

The year with Kotoko is likely to be Lamptey's swansong in a nomadic career that he has seen him play on four different continents and in at least ten countries.

The former international, who was once tipped as the next big thing by Brazilian legend Pele, started his playing career at Kumasi Conerstone.

A brilliant display for Ghana's under-17 side in Italy, when they won World Championship, earned him a move to the Anderlecht in Belgium where he began playing at just fifteen years old.

After Anderlecht he went on to become top scorer at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in his first season.

He then had stints at English clubs Coventry City and Aston Villa, where he was unable to hold down a regular place.

And instead of becoming the greatest Ghanaian player ever as many expected he has become the most travelled.

He has also played in Turkey, Italy, Germany and Portugal as well as Union Santa Fe in Argentina before moving to the UAE and finally ending up in China.

But Lamptey is not the only Black Stars' player returning home Peter Ofori Quaye, who played for Olympiakos in Greece, has signed for Liberty Professionals in an attempt to re-launch his injury ravaged career.