Feature: The making of Goalkeeper Stephen Adams
By Nii Ayitey Tetteh
“Me fight like Mike Tyson; me dance like Michael Jackson; me kill a lion like Samson……… that’s why everybody like my thing, like my thing……..” You will find these lyrics on Stephen Adams lips as he nods and taps his foot to the dancehall hit “Like my thing” by his favourite Ghanaian Dancehall artiste, Shatta Wale.
Listening to music is what he does to relax after an exerting work out. More than ever, that song aptly captures his new found appeal with Ghanaian fans following his remarkable outing for the home based Black Stars at the just ended 2014 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa. Surely, Ghanaians “liked his thing”; his performance on the field I mean! Come on! For Adams, his CHAN success couldn’t have come at a better time; a time when he could possibly sneak into the Black Stars squad for summer’s World Cup in Brazil. He has been here before, in 2010 only to lose out at the eleventh hour. Not many know that about him, but Adams has indeed come a long way.
On a quiet day, September 28th 1984, in Tema, Mr. Stephen Adams Snr and Madam Lucy Amissah (now deceased) welcomed Stephen Adams into this world. Young Adams, while attending Mexico Primary School in Tema, took to keeping goal as him and his mates played football for fun. In 1998, he took his game a little more serious; he joined Tema colts club, Great Ambassadors. He was nicknamed “Dida” after renowned Brazilian goalie for his sharp instincts. From Aggrey Road Park, where he mostly featured, word of his shot-stopping ability got round the Tema environs. In 2005, Adams joined Real Sportive and served as an apprentice to then number one, Laud Quartey. Adams’ big opportunity would come in 2009, when Dormaa based Aduana Stars, led by the King of the Dormaa Traditional Area, Osagyefo Oseadeayo Nana Agyeman Badu II came calling, Adams did not as much blink as he penned for the Dormaa side. That singular decision marked a turning point in Adams’ career. Featuring for Aduana opened a big door and gave him the exposure his career needed and he repaid that faith abundantly.
He was one of the main reasons why Aduana won the 2009/2010 Ghana Premier League in their debut season. Aduana set a world record by winning a major league championship with the lowest goals scored (19) and least conceded (10). Indeed, Adams did not concede on Aduana’s home turf, the Agyemang Badu II stadium, throughout the entire campaign. He was rightly awarded goalie of the season and it was no surprise when he was named in the preliminary 2010 World Cup squad. Adams eventually lost out as to Stephen Arhorlu and Daniel Adjei when he was dropped on the eve of the tourney.
He however made the 2011 CHAN team, but after a botched campaign in Sudan, Adams star, seemingly faded as less attention was paid to him. But with encouragement from his father and support from Osagyefo Oseadeayo Nana Agyeman Badu II, who Adams has a personal relationship with, he bid his time and another door opened late 2013.
CLOSER TO BRAZIL
In the period that Adams was out of the public eye and almost written off, he kept faith, putting in extra hours after training to work especially on his aerial prowess. Then, along came the West African Football Union (WAFU) tournament hosted in Ghana from November 21-28, 2013 in Kumasi. Medeama goalie Foli Adade started the tournament but Stephen Adams was later given a run out and he seized it with all fours, emerging man of the match in the last group game against Burkina Faso. He made another good showing in the final as Ghana beat Senegal to lift the WAFU trophy. That performance convinced coach of the home based Black Stars team, Maxwell Konadu to maintain Adams as number one going into the CHAN in South Africa.
In South Africa, Adams’ tourney started slowly, but while the team was generally sloppy, Adams’ was the exact opposite. With his gum chewing look, he commanded his area well, handled aerial balls with authority, and showed quick reflexes and mental alertness as Ghana journeyed to the final of the CHAN. Indeed, its quiet rare that you find goalies who can combine these qualities with penalty saving abilities as well, Adams is that kind. He made crucial saves, especially in the semi final victory over Nigeria and also in the final match against Libya during the penalty shoot out, and had Ghana’s shooters been a little precise, Ghana will have won its first senior silverware in 32 years. Adams may not be a finished article yet, but he is a diamond in the rough, who needs encouragement and it is only fair that, at least, he is given another opportunity to audition for squad membership. If he takes it and proves himself, Shatta’s tune will need remixing, with a new line: “me dive like Stephen Adams”.
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Source: 90 Minutes Newspaper