Ghana, our beloved country in which we are blessed to find ourselves has an immeasurable passion towards football.
I believe that at least 1 out of 10 Ghanaian children who are below 10 years old would have, at a point in their life, dreamt of playing football full-time when they grow up. Unfortunately, most of them do not fulfill this dream but end up choosing careers in law, medicine or banking, often with their parents’ influence.
It is rare to have a family that supports a young person on the path to becoming a footballer in this country, and that makes it difficult for the youth to follow their passion in pursuing unconventional careers.
Despite this, there are still some gems here who are actively pursuing their dreams to grace the realms of Ghanaian football and beyond.
Akwesi Leftee is a young budding player blessed with deft touches and a unique composure on the ball when playing on the field. I know this because I have had the unfortunate experience of playing against him on the football field, and mind you, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me as a defender for the other team.
We gaze into the eyes of Akwesi and journey into the story of a young Ghanaian footballer.
Tell us about your football experiences from school.
I had love for the game at a very tender age. I went to 48 Engineers, which happened to be a military school located at Teshie Nungua. There, I didn’t really play football. All I did there was trying to learn using a tennis ball as a start, and playing on a basketball court during our short breaks.
Everything started at my High School level where I had the chance to be in a beautiful and probably the best school in Africa, Mfantsipim School. I mastered playing the small-sided game which often consisted of 4 players per team.
Then I was scouted by the House and school teams, and that’s where I proved an important figure. Now, I am with the Liberty Professionals youth team.
What are the struggles you go through every day as a young Ghanaian footballer?
As a young Ghanaian footballer, [the] first [struggle] is how hard it is for parents to come to a conclusion that they would allow you to go down the football lane.
Secondly, catering for your needs as a footballer who is up and coming is a struggle. As a young footballer, the opportunity to play for a decent club for exposure and recognition is limited because there are quite a number of good players around too.
Also, there is the constant thought of probably travelling and playing for a renowned club, but it all comes down to mental fortitude… you just have to be tough.
Are you a versatile player?
Yes, I am. The only position I might find difficult is the right side of defense, which I am working on.
What is the preferred formation you like to play in a team?
I prefer the 4-4-2 formation where I envy the chance to be a number 10 role. The 4-3-3 formation is a beauty too, where being behind the striker is my favorite position.
Are you a technical player, or a skillful player or both?
I am both. You should be able to adapt everywhere because every coach has his philosophy and you should be very tactical in order to work with any coach that you come across.
Which Ghanaian football player is your role model?
Rabiu Mohammed aka Momo
Rabiu is a strong tower. He will tackle others throughout the game and covers almost every bit of the grass on the pitch. He is a very beautiful tackler and we love him because he works hard. In addition to this, he is also a smart and intelligent football player.
In the world of foreign football, which player inspires you?
Well, Cristiano Ronaldo inspires me. I want to work hard like him to get to the top. Talent alone isn’t enough.
In your view who is the best footballer in the world at the moment?[Akwesi laughs briefly] We just have two best players now, and I love them both. They are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. God sent!
Which coach (es) would you like to work with?
Jurgen Klopp or Diego Simeone. I love passionate coaches. Someone who breaks down when I am losing yet gives me all the support I could ever need, and someone who goes haywire when am winning as well.
In a few years, I’m sure Africa will be singing your name. What number will be at the back of your jersey when you start living your dream?
79, hopefully, or a mighty 10, if am worth it.
Why number 79?
It’s my favorite sister’s best number.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I see myself working hard and improving every other year.
Have you ever dreamt of playing in the best league in the world, the English Premier League in the near future?
EPL is just wow! With God and time, I would love to be playing in there. I have to work hard despite all odds and prove my worth. I have no excuse not to work hard.
So far in your playing career, what has been your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement so far comes up when I won 4 out of 5 tournaments. I was shortlisted as the best player, and I had a big say in the team’s goals and assists.
But what is most special about this is when you are a captain of a group who constantly believed and supported your lead. It’s just amazing.
If you get a chance to continue your playing career outside the country, which country will you go first and why?
I can’t pinpoint one country in which I might want to start the trade, but any European country is very much a blessing. When you keep the hard work up and you do things right, it’s difficult to be ignored.
After your playing career, will you try your hands on coaching?
Let’s wait and see, now I’m just starting.
What are your views on the Ghana Premier League?
Ghana League has talent. It still needs huge shaping, world-class facilities and also some comfortable sponsorship.
What is missing from the Ghana Premier League?
The funds, tactical play and probably a little desire, belief, and discipline.
Do you have any advice for the youth who have an interest in playing football as a profession?
My advice to the young people is keep working hard and smart, everything you keep fighting for would come to you naturally and when you least expect it.
Yes, talent alone is enough. Discipline and hard work will carry your talent to places you want to go.
Work hard to achieve your dreams.
And Never Give Up.
Interview By: Kwesi Otoo, threesixtyGh Writer