Owner and bankroller of King Faisal, Alhaji Grunsah has rubbished claims of halting Shilla Illiasu’s move to Arsenal in 2006 after the FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Illiasu who was one of Ghana’s heroes in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in an interview with Asempa FM revealed that the veteran football administrator blocked his move to the Gunners.
“Arsene Wenger told me that he had monitored me against the Czech Republic at the World Cup and believes that I’m one of the best defenders in Africa. He told me he wanted to sign me to Arsenal to help his team," Shilla said.
“I started training with them and after the third training session, the agent called and confirmed Wenger was impressed and wanted to sign me.
“Later, the agent called and requested that I speak with Alhaji Grunsah because he was being stubborn and that I should also engage Kotoko, Kwabena Kesse (Kessben) was then the CEO.
“I remember I spoke to him and Mr Kesse told me they were still in talks with Arsenal and assured me my future remained the central focus.
Despite these initial positive signs, the move never happened and Shilla Illiasu says he later uncovered that a letter Alhaji Grunsah penned to Arsenal might be the major reason the English club pulled the plugs on the deal
“It was later that I realised that Alhaji was the biggest problem. He personally wrote a letter to Arsenal telling them that I was his bonafide property.
“So the agent asked what is Alhaji saying. The agent asked me that can’t you talk to Alhaji because he is trying to bring problem.
“Because Alhaji wrote to Arsenal that I was his bonafide property and that time too I was a Kotoko player.
“What I know is that Alhaji had a percentage, my transfer from King Faisal to Kotoko wasn’t an outright deal so Alhaji had a percentage (stake) in me.
“So when the Arsenal deal was to go through, Kotoko was trying to tell Alhaji he was getting close to nothing from the deal and Alhaji also did his things,” he narrated.
However, Alhaji Grusah says he knew nothing about any interest from Arsenal for Shilla Illiasu.
“How can I deny my player from signing for a big club like Arsenal?” he asked on Nhyira FM.
“I was entitled to receiving onward transfer fee so it would’ve been irresponsible on my part to block the move.
“He should concentrate on getting a good job and stop putting the blame on me.
“I personally wasn’t aware about his supposed link to Arsenal. I would have been a very proud man to see one of my players playing for Arsenal.” He added.
Shillai Illiasu who was sent on loan from King Faisal to Kotoko in 2005 excelled during the 2006 FIFA World Cup and attracted offers from several clubs, but ended up at Saturn FC in Russia.