By Godfred Akoto Boafo
To let your feet do the talking. Its one of the worst sounding sports cliches and yet probably the most overused but its use is rather apt for this article.
A week after making his long expected return to the national team of Ghana official and two days after a recall to the national team much to chagrin of Ghanaian football fans, Kelvin Prince Boateng did what only he out of a few Ghanaian footballers can actually do these days, he let his feet do the talking.
On a big stage with high stakes for AC Milan in the Champions League,the West Berlin born midfielder served a reminder of his world class quality with two goals against PSV. He has been the butt of many a displeased Ghanaian fan, many of whom are of the opinion that his return to the national team is only to enjoy the fruits of an imminent World Cup others have toiled for.
Many say he is a fair weather professional with no sense of regard or commitment towards his fatherland, an assessment that could be true. Against PSV he left many of those fans, knowledgeable as they are, in no doubt of the obvious advantage his return brings to a national team that has been high on determination and willingness but short on several fronts of the most vital ingredient in a football team, quality.
The annoyance of Ghanaian fans with Boateng in Ghana stems from this knowledge. After his retirement he spent that season playing at a level for Milan that had Black Stars fans questioning why they also could not benefit from his displays. Who could ignore his running and fearlessness as AC Milan moon-walked to the Scudetto, or “that” goal against Barcelona? The flick,the turn and the volley all in one swift elegant motion as Victor Valdes watched the ball sail past him. Even during a slump in form last year, there were signs that more could be extracted from him.
In the meantime, Black Stars fans learnt to accept that they would never benefit from his quality again. Fans move on. They are built that way. They got used to the idea of their beloved team being good enough to compete with the best of the continent. Through two painful AFCON semifinal campaigns and a World Cup qualifying round, the team had persevered without it’s once glamorous star. Kevin Prince Boateng shattered that mindset within a week with a letter and two goals. Just his style.
This is a player who cares only about winning and is beyond competent in a variety of positions. Against PSV, he scored two goals of varying tactical competence . One could even say he looked reinvigorated. Maybe he did need the national team to motivate himself after a poor season and facing a make or break year on a personal level. Yet the same could be said for the national team he is returning to. The Black Stars is one that has gotten comfortable with its nearly man status and needs a shake up in mentality. A very good team that needs an extra drag to make it a great team . To be relevant again and not just tagged “favorites” because it has won four AFCON trophies most fans barely remember.
One way or the other both parties will benefit and PSV’s slaughter by KPB shows why. Asamoah Gyan has borne the responsibility of Ghana for eons now but has never found a partner willing to help him share responsibility when times are hard. Kwadwo Asamoah is Ghana’s best player at club level yet always understated at national level. Agyeman Badu has slumped along the way and Andre Ayew loves his brother too much. In 2010 Boateng ,a relative newcomer took responsibility because that is the kind of player he is and will do so again.
The gifts he brings already seem to have had an effect. Just ask Zambian coach Herve Renard whose reaction after the announcement of Ghana’s squad comprising of the returning trio of Essien, Ayew and Boateng was nothing short of dramatic.
“We now have a monster in front of us .A monster of Africa”.
That monster is about to be unleashed.