The Boateng factor!

Ghana made three changes in the 46th minute when they faced England at Wembley yesternight. Daniel Opare came on for Lee Addy, Derek Boateng replaced Anthony Annan and Jonathan Mensah picked the place of Isaac Vorsah.But the most notable and effective introduction was Boateng’s inclusion.This time it wasn’t Kevin Prince Boateng but another Boateng who was tipped by many soccer pundits some few years ago to be Ghana’s next big soccer talent.Derek Boateng’s inclusion brought urgency in Ghana’s play and pushing the team forward.The only problem I had with him was that he wanted to do too many tricks on the ball.He should just play it simple.That might be the reason why he wasn’t Milo’s favourite player.But in all he was very effective.So how come a player of his caliber did not even feature for one second in Ghana’s 2nd World Cup appearance at South Africa?

Football life hasn’t been that smooth for Derek.Derek Owusu Boateng, currently playing for Spanish first division side Getafe CF originally started as  a striker or winger. Boateng has moved further down the pitch and is currently considered a defensive midfielder in his club, due to the position slightly behind the other midfielders he tends to have during the game. While he is not a traditional holding midfielder, his ability to hold the ball and make the opening passes makes him suitable for that position.

Boateng joined the youth academy of local side Liberty Professionals at the age of 10 in 1993. He signed for Kalamata F.C. in Greece when he was 16. Kalamata stopped him from appearing in the Under-17 World Cup in 1999 in New Zealand so the world had to wait for 2 years to see his talent.

In 2001, Boateng signed for Panathinaikos in Greece.Steve McClaren, then assistant manager for Manchester United, had seen Boateng as an opponent in the Champions League, and when McClaren became the manager of Middlesbrough in 2002, he tried to sign him. Panathinaikos accepted, but as Boateng was not playing regularly for the Black Stars,he was unable to receive a work permit.

While playing for Panathinaikos in 2001, Boateng also played for the Black Satellites at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina, where he took his country to the final.Ghana lost to Saviola’s but Argentina but Boateng  was named one of the rising stars of the tournamentafter his fine displays.Part of a Ghanaian side which had current Black Stars players like Muntari,Essien,Paintsil and John Mensah; Derek outshone all his colleagues.The future looked bright for this lad.I remember that tournament like yesterday.I loved watching Boateng anytime he had the ball.He was such a delight to watch.He almost scored the best goal of the tournament when Ghana beat Egypt 2-0 in the Semi finals.

The then 18-year old Boateng went on to represent Ghana at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali for the Black Stars where he again performed excellently until Ghana were eliminated by Nigeria in the Quarter Finals.Since then Boateng has been in and out of the national team missing all the subsequent editions of the AFCON.After Mali 2002 Boateng’s performance began to decline. Boateng was unable to keep his place in the Panathinaikos squad and was sent on loan to OFI Crete. After months of negotiations he signed for AIK in August 2003. He was injured in his first game, and had a poor season.

The 2004 season saw AIK being relegated from Allsvenskan for only the third time in the history of the club. Boateng, the rest of the squad and organisation received massive criticism from both media and AIK fans, requiring police escort from the arena several times when AIK had performed poorly.

Before the start of the 2005 campaign, Boateng was deemed an unaffordable expense and he therefore used his preseason training time in search of a new club in Europe. However, he failed to find himself a new club and remained at AIK. Boateng later became a regular in the first-team line-up during the second half of the season, and AIK gained promotion after winning the Superettan in style. Boateng extended his contract with AIK for one more year until the end of 2007.

Boateng continued to perform well in the spring season of 2006, and after participating in a friendly with Ghana against French club Nice, he was selected for the Ghana squad at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.He made his first FIFA World Cup appearance on 17 June 2006, when he replaced Otto Addo at half-time in the 2–0 win against the Czech Republic.

In July 2006, he signed with Beitar Jerusalem until June 2009. Boateng immediately became an integral player in Beitar Jerusalem’s starting lineup, and while playing as the team’s central midfielder, was one of the most efficient players in the Israeli Premier League, helping Beitar Jerusalem to win the league for the fifth time in their history, and for the first time for 10 years, contributing four goals in the campaign.

The 2007–08 season started off poorly for Boateng, as he got sent off during Beitar Jerusalem’s first official game of the season, in leg one of the second qualifying round for the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League, away to F.C. Copenhagen. Beitar Jerusalem lost 2–1 on aggregate and were eliminated. As the season continued, Boateng’s form improved and played a very important role in a season that ended with another championship for Beitar Jerusalem. At the Israel State Cup final, Beitar Jerusalem secured the title with a 5–4 win at the shootout, and secured an historical double. Boateng was voted Best Foreign Player of the Year.

The 2008–09 season started with yet another early elimination at the secondnd qualification round for the UEFA Champions League, this time with a 5–0 away defeat to Wisła Kraków, and 6–2 in aggregate. This defeat led to a crisis for Beitar Jerusalem, and financial uncertainty caused the sale of Boateng to FC Köln at the January transfer window. Boateng left Beitar as one of the greatest foreign players in the team’s history, and as the highest paid player in the history of the Israeli Premier League.

On 21 January 2009, Boateng signed a four-year contract with 1. FC Köln. However, on 31 July 2009, Getafe CF signed him from Köln for one million euros. Boateng was introduced to the Spanish press on 6 August before he took to the field to meet fans of the club.Boateng has resurrected his career at Getafe with some fine displays.Last season he was voted fans’ player of the year.This season Boateng has continued to perform consistently and in December,he scored the winning goal for Getafe against Almeria to secure a 3-2 victory for his side.Boateng has attracted interest from great clubs like Valencia.I wish him the best and I have a feeling Boateng has a lot to offer Ghana now.He is now a more matured player.

The sky is the limit for Derek Boateng.

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