Ben Wilson: A slip from Bastia and Anderlecht, broke and now a taxi driver in Kumasi
By Akyereko Frimpong Manson
Follow Akyereko on Twitter: @Akyereko
Ben Wilson joined Sam Johnson, Yaw Preko and Nii Odartey Lamptey at Belgian side Anderlecht at the tender age of 16 and was tipped for greatness by many who saw his talent in the late 90s.
But from a precociously promising beginning, the former King Faisal playmaker is now a ‘common’ taxi driver in Kumasi and lives from hand to mouth.
“I’m now a taxi driver in Kumasi. I distribute goods people come to buy from shops but I mostly drive to Adum around the Baba Yara Stadium so other footballers will see me and learn from my story.”
Wilson has been speaking to Asempa FM’s Enoch Walanyo on a wide range of issues relating to his post football career which has been clumsily sad after he was forced to retire after breaking his leg in a ‘Sunday Special’ game. And, he talks freely and openly about his life, something other broke Ghanaian footballers would never do.
Wilson was one of the best players of his day and established himself as a household name in Ghanaian Premier League attracting huge interests from giants Asante Kotoko, Hearts of Oak and AshGold.
But he decided to stick with Faisal where he began his career. A decision he regrets today. As he reveals, Kotoko did everything possible to sign him including purchasing a ride for his mother.
“It was a big mistake not to move. A lot of clubs came chasing after my signature and Kotoko did everything including buying a car for my mother but I made my mother return the car to them.”
“I’ll advise every young player never to overlook offers when they come because that was the greatest mistake I made.”
Wilson began his career at Faisal’s juvenile side and had the opportunity to travel to Europe in the late 1990s – something which was very uncommon Ghanaian youngsters at the time.
“I went to Anderlecht and met Sam Johnson, Yaw Preko and Odartey Lamptey there. I stayed there for sometime before later moving to Bastia in France (A club where AC Milan star Michael Essien started his European club career).”
After his European experiment failed, Wilson returned home to rejoin Faisal but it was to sadly mar and mark the end of his playing career as he broke his leg in a ‘Sunday Special’ game.
And he reveals AC Milan star Sulley Muntari catered for his leg operation and helped him walk again.
“It was Muntari who helped me undergo the surgery financially. I’m very grateful to him and always pray for him.”
I don’t have any money because now because I used all my savings to take care of things when the injury happened and now I have to go drive the taxi everyday to eat.”
Despite being in his mid-30s and heading to his early 40s, Wilson admits shamelessly that he has no wife and children.
“No, I don’t have no wife nor a child.”
Ironically, Wilson is not in this alone. He claims most of his King Faisal play-mates are also struggling in the same conundrum as they have to push to make ends meet in life. And, one of such players is Abubakar Yahuza who rose to prominence in Ghana during the mid-2000s and played an influential role in Ghana’s first qualification to the FIFA World Cup (Germany 2006).
“Most of the players I played with at the time are not all okay. Yahuza is also back home and is facing the same problems I’m facing here”
According to Asempa FM, Yahuza is now a Kebab seller in Kumasi, a report GHANAsoccernet.com cannot independently confirm.
Most Ghanaian players go broke after the playing careers and usually go around begging for arms.