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Sports Features of Monday, 12 November 2018

Source: footballmadeinghana.com

Samuel Inkoom: An epitome of self destruction

The deafening noise at the 71,000-capacity Stadio Olimpico was not a bother to a determined mind, it was October 19, 2010, AS Roma were hosting FC Basel in a UEFA Champions League Group E fixture. Alexander Frei had given the visitors a 12th-minute lead, but Roma opened fire on the Swiss champions snatching an equalizer in the 21st minute through Marco Borrielo. From then, it was a ding-dong affair before the moment of truth came in the 44th minute. The mercurial Xherdan Shaqiri found Samuel Inkoom with a sumptuous one-time pass and the marauding right-back left veteran Simone Perrota for dead before dinking a superb effort past Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont for Basel’s second goal.

Yes! the historical Stadio Olimpico went dead, the only few voices which were heard were that of the traveling Basel fans. Samuel Inkoom, the pocket-sized right-back from Ghana had putting the Gillarosi supporters to sleep. The man from Takoradi had finally arrived, the goal against a Francesco Totti-led AS Roma undoubtedly cut Inkoom’s European football umbilical cord.

Inkoom’s football journey had been strenuous from the scratch, despite having the God-given football talent, his greatest enemy was his body size as most coaches saw him to be too small to make it in the globular leather.

After his secondary school education at Apam in the central region of Ghana, Inkoom was drafted to the Winneba Sports Academy and had the opportunity to get an initial call up to the Black Starlets of Ghana team for the Peru Under 17 World Cup in 2005. He however could not make the final squad for the tournament as he and several others were dropped.

To the young Inkoom who believed in his capabilities, the decision was not a worry as it served as extra motivation in his quest to get to the top. His hometown club Sekondi Hasaacas signed him and he rose to become one of the lively players in the Ghana Premier League. After just a season with Hasaacas, then Kotoko coach Bashiru Hayford showed interest in him and decided to bring him to Kotoko. The deal went through alright but some of the management members of the Reds were not convinced about Inkoom because of his body size. Hayford saw something different in him and gave him the platform of which he excelled greatly.

His exploits at Kotoko secured him a $700,000 move to FC Basel in April 2009 and also a place in Ghana’s Under 20 team which eventually won the world cup in Egypt later that year.

Inkoom cemented his place at FC Basel and was one of their exciting players. A series of outstanding performances caught the eyes of Ukrainian club FC Dnipro who came after him though the Swiss side were bent on keeping him for a bigger offer in future as he continues to mature. Inkoom was not keen on staying in Basel and in January 2011, he moved to Dnipro for a fee of 7 million Euros.

The youngster became a star overnight, money was not an issue, he was Ghana football “poster boy.” He virtually put himself at a level he had not reached. He flaunted his wealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. He also had dozens of rented press men who spoke only his good side in the media. He was never concentrating on his football as he spent more hours on social media than training and soon his form dipped.

He was shipped on loan twice, first to Bastia in France and secondly to Platanias in Greece but he could not rediscover his form back as his off the field activities were eating him up. After his contract with Dnipro expired, he joined MLS outfit DC United on Aug 31, 2014 but still could not make the grade and his contract was canceled after a year making him to move to Boavista. Subsequent moves saw him featuring for Boavista, Alanyaspor and Bulgarian side Veraya before he started reaping the things he sowed.

First, his ex-landlord Paul Curtis Willete sued him for destroying his property and running away whilst he was still owing rent. The story was captured by many of the tabloids in US including the Washington Post.

In an interview with WUSA9, Willette described how Inkoom had left his property in shambles.

“I saved for about seven years, pinching pennies,” Willete emphasized.

“What we believe happened is that a T.V. was mounted here and it punctured a sewage line.It’s basically collecting everything that is coming down. So over the course of a week or two weeks or three weeks, what happened is this eventually backed up to a point where it began to overflow. Waste water, sewage water, which is pretty bad,” said Willette. The water soaked into carpets, walls and ceilings.

Willete also revealed that he initially did not want to hand over the keys of the apartment to Inkoom as their financial records showed they could not afford the $2,000 a month rent at the time but he only agreed after a letter from DC United.

“He saw the house, fell in love with it, naturally, and wanted to move in. Unfortunately, looking at their financial situation, we weren’t going to be able to approve them.”

“We changed our minds immediately. We said we’ve got this letter from the team, it is legit, we would love to help out a player who is coming to the U.S. for the first time and playing for one of our sports teams here in the area. We didn’t hesitate after we got that letter,” remembered Willette.

“Unfortunately it was a very bad decision.”

“I had a lease with the gentleman and his family, he has three little kids, he had another on the way, and I wasn’t about to uproot them and displace them out of the home. So I found another place to live.”

Inkoom’s woes did not end there, in June 2017, world football governing body FIFA banned him one year for trying to be greedy and a cheat. The defender had not paid an amount of $65,000 due agent Curtis Willer who took him to DC United in 2015. Up till now he has not paid the agent and the banned has been extended to another year.

Aside Curtis, Inkoom has taken money from several people and has refused to pay with some of them on the verge of dragging him to court.

“Inkoom owes me up to the tune of 11,000 Euros, he has not paid. He borrowed the money two years ago, he came with a friend called Edem. I have made police to arrest Edem twice but Inkoom is till hiding. When I contact him, he tells me stories,” A Ghanaian business-man based in Netherlands told this reporter.

Now, what looks like a promising career has almost ended due to self-destruction which includes being a cheat and also trying to be what you are not due to social media.

Appearing in three World Cups (Under 20 in 2009 and Black Stars 2010, 2014) together with one African Cup of Nations Tournament (2010 ), the petit defender was destined for greatness but his off the field activities have thrown him into a mess