2014 World Cup: Could Jeffrey Schlupp be the answer to Ghana's left-back problems?

Jeffrey Schlupp

Jeffrey Schlupp

The first time I heard his name, I least anticipated that he looked even remotely like me; in my mind’s eye, I pictured a red head; stocky, freckled and muscular man.

To my surprise, Jeffrey Schlupp was very much Ghanaian and looked every bit like me, well except in the looks department of course, I shaded that one. Okay, that was just a light remark, now back to serious business.

Schlupp first came to prominence in 2011, after a series of outstanding performances as a striker for Leicester city; he caught the eye of then Ghana coach, Goran Stevanovic, who invited him for a double header against Sierra Leone and Gabon in November 2011. He made his debut against Gabon coming on for Prince Tagoe.

Eureka! I screamed in my minds ear, savouring every bit of the irony. To think that the Germans had “stolen” Gerald Asamoah, David Odonkor and Jerome Boateng, from under our heavy noses, it was refreshing, almost poetic justice that, the one that bore their indigenous name, Schlupp, is the one who got away.

Well, that was 2011, Schulpp was then coming into his own, holding so much promise; it was the perfect coup that Ghana got him. Unfortunately, the natural trajectory Schlupp was expected to navigate up north rather went south.

However, just when you thought he was going to be a forgotten man, Schlupp is back in the limelight, staging a coup of his own; per his stellar performances at left back for Leicester City in the English Championship, he might just force his way into Ghana’s final 23 man squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. How credible is Schlupp’s quest? Could he finally be the solution to Ghana’s perennial left back problem?

THE PLAYER

Yes Ghana got him, but there is no denying his German background. Born on December 23, 1992 to Ghanaian parents in Hamburg, Germany, young Schlupp migrated with his family to England where he schooled in Milton Keynes. At age 12 in 2005, he joined the Leicester City youth academy until he was eventually promoted to the Leicester City senior side in 2010. Limited appearances saw him loaned out to League One side Brentford in 2011 to gain more playing time. It was around that time that he also got invited to the German U-19 team. 6 goals in 9 games for Brentford was enough for Leicester to recall him for the 2011/2012 season. His competitive debut took off to a bang under Sven-Goran Erikson, as he scored a hat trick in the League Cup tie at Rotherham United. Schlupp however struggled after that, as he was used sparingly in the center forward, left wing and left back roles.

The 2012/2013 season will however be significant as he caught the eye of then Manchester United coach, Alex Fergusson, who offered him a 3 week trial in January 2013.

And while he wasn’t given a contract by Fergusson, his confidence got a massive boost. This season, 2013/2014, playing in the stead of injured former English international left back, Paul Konchesky, Schlupp has seized the spot, made it his own, kept out Konchesky and helped Leicester gain promotion to the English Premier League.

Though the plaudits have followed, Schlupp insist he is taking it all one day at a time. One achievement is down and next up will be selection into Coach Kwesi Appiah’s squad for Brazil. Schlupp’s ambition is clear, he is ready to go to Brazil in whatever role Appiah picks him, hear him “I don’t mind how he (Appiah) wants to use me. I would go to the World Cup even as the kit man.” Such encouraging resolve! But does he have what it takes to excel in a Black Stars kit?

WHAT HE BRINGS

Many have auditioned, but none has convincingly owned the role; Emmanuel Addoquaye Pappoe, Habib Mohammed, Hans Adu-Sarpei, Masahudu Alhassan, Baba Abdul Rahman, Harrison Afful and David Addy in recent years have all “courted” the role, but apart from Sapei, none has won the heart of “Miss Left Back”.

The search is on and Schlupp will be counting on his current form to gate crash the World Cup party. Indeed, Schlupp has quite a good chance considering his skill set.

By no means are the above players inferior to Schlupp by any stretch of imagination. Indeed, some of those players probably possess higher technique than Schlupp but what Schlupp brings is what many Ghanaians have been looking for. What could that be? Basic defensive cover.

It is why a right footed player like Hans Adu Sarpei flourished to some extent in that role. Schlupp brings that and more. He may not dance and weave like a Harrison or an Addy would, but he would clear his lines in an unfashionable manner, he would be strong and timely in his tackles and when he overlaps upfront with direct runs, he possesses the searing pace to recover. Nothing over the top; simple, calm, and effective defending at left back.

For the naysayers who believe he is still a rookie, untested on the international scene, Schlupp would more likely than not get the chance to clear all doubts when as expected Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah offers him a chance in the friendly matches leading up to the World Cup.

Should he pass the test and protect Ghana’s goal at the World Cup, he will be seen as a savior of sort, and in typical Ghanaian style he might be rechristened Jeffrey “Agyenkwa” Schlupp, the solution to Ghana’s problematic left back position. Could he? Could he not? The jury is still out.

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READERS COMMENTS

  1. jb says:

    I have watched him so many time and i have no doubt he will make a big impact in brasil, again he is far better than the current left back we have

  2. Kuukuphilly says:

    May God help us all..long live mother Ghana ..

  3. PAPA-KA-NAWU says:

    Schlupp have the size of a defender like Isaac Vorsa..I personally believe Schlupp wil be GOOD to accompany VORSA and JOHN BOYE to be the ROCK to prevent the RONALDOS of Portugal and the MULLERS (DFB) of THE GOOD OLD ( ADOLF HITLERS) MEN-.
    Klinsman will be a HARD NUT to crack for the 3rd consercutive wins over the WORLDS POLICE country, being the USA, the LAND of opportunities..Ghana needs tall PLAYERS like SCHLUPP, VORSA and John BOYE to make things different for the BLACK STARS to dive thruu the GROUP STAGES OF THE 2014 WC IN BRASIL.

  4. wilson says:

    What’s this description as an utility player? So far as i am concerned, that term is used by ghanaian’s to force a player into a team. If he is good he should come and compete and take the position he is best at and not come and be shuffled around under the guise of utility. It is only in Ghana that UTILITY is a hallowed term. Thats the practice that has been weakening Ghanaian teams.
    In fact the left full back position has fast established itself as a position that coaches keep and use to push players into the team by force. In Angola, we saw how Rahim was quickly withdrawn from that position when the Ivorians ran riot. Again a certain player was also forced into the team through that position at equitoral guinea 2012. Apart from that afful, nkoom, lee addy have all made a harsh of that position. The experiment that made the loudest impart in my estimation was when kwesi appiah unexpectedly sent kwadwo asamoah there which in my estimation gave us much dividends but the idea was subjected to an intense criticism such that kwesi seemed to have abandoned it but he must take another look at it.

  5. access says:

    He will go to Brazil…

  6. Angela Sasu Dumehasie says:

    Listern guys,, we are not going to brazil to fry potatoes. Kojo asamoah is the answer for our left back. We have wakaso, ayew, kp boateng, badu, muntari, atsu and more, all calpable of playing offensive roles in the middle. The middle of the park is chocked.. put k asamoah at left back and stop this keleweley jackpot

  7. Malcolm X says:

    Well from all indications Schlupp is a good player bcos he has wat it takes to cure some of d problems in BS i.e a Striker at dsame time left back defender which i see to b a very good advantage to HIM with also d structure n strength he has BUT to me Nana Kwesi Asare is by far experienced dan Schlupp which he can also play left back dough can’t strike but he is very good at goal scoring regardless his position.
    Lee Addy diz year has also proven very well 2 deserve a place to Brazil n we no wat n how he can also help both d central n d lateral defense of d team n both players i mentioned nevertheless r by far experienced n matured dan him n playing high profile leagues n clubs dan him, then y not DR. APPIAH?
    hmmm diz is world cup ooo n remember our group ooo, little mis-concentration n inexperience can course us alot, hmmmmmmm God bless our Homeland Ghana

  8. Issah says:

    A sure bet for Brazil. Mark my word:

    Goal Keepers: Dauda, Kwarasey, Adams (3)

    Defence: Opare, Afful, Boye, Vorsah, Sumaila, Jerry, Nkum, Schlupp (8)

    Midfield: Essien, Dede, Asamoah, Badu, Sulley, Atsu, Wakasu, Rabiu (8)

    Attack: Gyan, Kelvin, Waris, Jordan (3)

    Soccernet, prepare an award for me!

  9. Leslie says:

    Brilliant comment Angela! You couldn’t have put it better. I just cannot see why we are still scratching our heads over the left back position when we have one of the best left backs in Europe in our team. We have a lot of left sided mid fielders like the brilliant Ayew, hard working Wakaso and the in form Atsu. The coach can play with three central defenders like Antonio Conte is doing at Juve and use Asamoah and Afful/Inkoom as wing backs. This will strengthen our leaderless central defense and offer the wing backs a bit of freedom to help the attack with their obvious attacking qualities.

  10. smokey says:

    @Angela+Leslie Asamoah isnt up to playing left back he lacks defensive skills and switches off sometime allowing people to ghost in at the far post to score game Napoli v Juve been a prime example you dont see it too often Juventus been such a dominant force in Italy and didnt you see the game the game v Real Madrid where Juve switched to a back 4? Bale twisted him up so bad it took a week for poor Kasa to untangle himself.
    As for the switch to a 3-5-2 that would be straight up suicide to thrust a system that on team thats not used to playing that way so close to the world cup best to stick to a back 4 if you ask me.

  11. big boss says:

    Eiiii papa k… Haaaahaaaa!! U be too much oooo!!! Haaahaaaaaaaaa

  12. malik says:

    where is this one also coming from?Are you trying to mean we don’t have good players capable of playing that position?was it stones we had in that position before qualifying or what? Dont campaign for that guy we are taking our left back such as aful, b.rahman and others as they are and dont forget thinking about that position because there are other positions to make up the team.

    • Ivan says:

      I think Schlupp shd be given a call up, he can be used in the first game against U.S.A & if that works well, them he will be the one to ‘police’ CR7…we cant afford to use K.Asa at left back, a waste of resource if u ask me. good day y’all