TORNADO’S GREATEST NEMESIS

Football is a sport played by 22 players, 11 players on each side chasing a ball. It can be played anywhere but professional football is played in a stadium where spectators pay money to watch their teams. Others too prefer to watch it on TV since the sport is now aired live on TV. I sometimes find it very strange why people have become so passionate about a sport which involves 22 peoples chasing one ball and supporters making noise when this ball is playing tricks on them. But surprisingly I belong to that group.

Football has become part of daily activities especially when one lives in Kumasi, he might know what I am talking about. The greatest footballer of all time Pele (others think it is MARADONA) even dubbed football ‘’THE BEAUTIFUL GAME’’ after Brazil’s 1970 FIFA World Cup triumph over Italy. But I see football as ‘’THE SWEET BITTER GAME ’’, sweet when a teams wins and bitter when a team loses. The game also has an unfortunate aspect which has ended the dreams of most footballers: INJURIES AND HEART FAILURES.

Some footballers might have been the best in their generation had it not been for one injury or another. Injuries have ended their careers prematurely whilst others are still active footballers but have lost that Midas touch that once made them the most feared players in the world. They were great prospects and the engines of their teams. They were as quick as lightning when they had the ball in their territory but lost all those qualities after coming back from an injury. Their contemporaries could not match up with them during training or when there was a match, being it a friendly, exhibition or a tournament. Most footballers have become victims of injury.

Starting from Pele to Ransford Osei, Alan Smith, Michael Owen, Sebastian Deisler, Edu.Some footballers too were victims of health diseases such as heart problems. A typical example being Fadiga,Kanu. Others too like Mark Foe and Feher were not able to survive. They both died on the pitch. A similar incident occurred in India and Nigeria. Others too have injured themselves in car accidents or even resulting in their death. Dario Silva can no more play football after being amputated. He was involved in a car accident.

Our second edition of the THE FOOTBALLER’S GREATEST NEMESIS focuses  on one a player every Ghanaian footballer knows.He’s my dad’s favourite Ghanaian footballer. He’s Ghana’s most successful skipper.Stephen Appiah has been a victim of injuries and contract disputes.

Tornado

We will forever the Appiah who single handedly tore South Africa apart with his goals in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, we will remember the Appiah whose penalty ensured Ghana a place in the 2nd round of their maiden World Cup appearance. We will remember the Appiah who just did not say Ghana first but who acted every time that Ghana first.

Stephen Leroy Appiah (30) currently a free agent has played for several European clubs since 1997 . Appiah was a member of the Ghana national team, which he has represented at the youth (1995 FIFA U-17 World Championship, the 1997 and 1999 World Youth Championships), Olympic (2004 Olympic tournament), and senior levels. He captained Ghana at their World Cup debut in 2006 and was a member of their squad for the 2010 World Cup. He was also the captain of the national team.

He earned the nickname Tornado due to the fact that he is very dominant in midfield and is also very strong. A combative player, Stephen Appiah has a strong engine and good tactical awareness. He is an all-round box-to-box midfielder who is able to defend as well as create and score goals. Appiah began his career at local club Hearts of Oak in 1995.

Calcio

He moved abroad to join Italian Serie A side Udinese when he was seventeen. He spent three seasons with the club and while there changed from striker to midfield. He moved to Parma in the  summer of 2000. After two seasons at Parma, Appiah went on loan to veteran Italian manager Carlo Mazzone’s Brescia for the 2002-03 season. Appiah became a first-team regular for the Lombardians where he played with players like Roberto Baggio and Igli Tare.Tornado scored seven times in 31 games and his most memorable one being the goal he scored against Juventus that season.Appiah’s success at Brescia alerted defending Serie A champions Juventus .

They paid Parma €2m in the summer of 2003 to secure Appiah’s services on loan, with an option to a permanent €6M transfer in 2004. In 2003, Appiah finished 8th for African Footballer of the Year.He went on to enjoy a good first season for Juventus (to the extent of even taking Edgar David’s position in the team ), playing in 30 Serie A games and appearing in the Coppa Italia final. He also made his debut in the UEFA Champions League. In his second season at Juventus, Appiah played in 18 Serie A games.He lost his place in the team after representing Ghana at the 2004 Olympic Games,a tournament which is not on the FIFA Calendar.That’s the level of commitment ‘El Capitano’  showed.

 

Vicissitude

In July 2005, he was transferred from Juventus to Fenerbahçe, the defending Turkish champions, for €8 million. He won the Turkish Super League Championship with Fenerbahçe in their centenary year. In November 2007, he was linked with a return to Juventus by the Italian media.

Appiah went to Italy for rehabilitation of his injury. The long-term injury also forced Appiah to miss the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in which Ghana were eliminated at the semi-final stage.Fenerbahçe  de-registered Appiah as he occupied a foreigner quota and replaced him with Claudio Maldonado. Appiah also refused to take rehabilitation in Turkey.The club also thought that Appiah was actually AWOL and Appiah thought the club exposed his medical history to the press and mistreatment to his injury, although the club defended that it had made an appointment for Appiah to visit a clinic in the United States, but Appiah did not show up.

During the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Appiah formally submitted a claim of mistreatment by asking to leave as free agent on 1 July 2008 and received the pre-agreed 2008–09 season salary of €2 million.In response, Fenerbahçe notified FIFA. In April 2008 the case went to FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), and both parties sued each other.He terminated the contract at the end of season, as he thought the club had breached the contract by not fulfilling its duties

Resurrection

On 1 November, 2009 Bologna announced the signing of Appiah on a free transfer,worth just €200,000 net per season.Poor form caused by his long inactivity, together with a number of recurring injuries, prevented him from appearing with the first team throughout the season, and he made his debut in a Bologna shirt only on May 9, 2010, as a half-time substitute during a league game versus Catania.

On 7 August 2010, Appiah signed for newly-promoted Italian Serie A side Cesena on a one-year deal with the option of another year if the club stays in the top flight. At the end of the 2010/2011 season his contract expires with Cesena and remains clubless.

The Future

Appiah has designed a clothing line, called StepApp, which was released in Accra, with all proceeds going to the StepApp foundation.

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