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Sports News of Monday, 11 May 2020


How Ghana’s George Lamptey stopped Brazilian 'World' Pele in his tracks

Ghana’s production of brilliant and talented soccer players did not start today. It started the very day the game was introduced on the Gold Coast.

If the likes of Abedi Pele, Ibrahim Sunday, Abdul Razak and Mohammed Polo left indelible memories with their dazzling skills, timely deliveries and blistering power, George Lamptey, left heavy notes with his timely clearances, aggressive tackles and strong defensive display.

Nicknamed ‘The Man with the Telescopic legs’, George was a Goliath-like giant in the mist of great defenders. He was the resort his side Chicago Sting always depended on to secure massive victories when needed most.

In one of such games was the famous 2-1 win over New York Cosmos on 22nd May 1977, a game that saw George coming on from the bench to pull the breaks on the Almighty Edson Arantes do Nascimento ‘Pele’ who was in his prime.

With Chicago Sting leading 2-1 by half time, all they needed to do was to block Pele from causing havoc in the second half to protect their win.

Certainly, George was the man to do the job. The Ghanaian was called upon to be ready to come on, eyebrows were raised as warmed up for the game because his presence on the field meant no goal again for Cosmos.

As he stood by the touchline getting ready to come on, Cosmos were thinking of how to go past him as he was a symbolic figure of the Chinese Wall at the back for Chicago Sting.

His introduction came with a timely clearance as he did not even last more than a minute when Pele confronted him with the ball. And truly, George defined why he’s referred to as the man with telescopic legs by clearing the ball from danger.

He kept the attack of New York Cosmos at bay, always turning in the perfect tackles and destabilizing Pele and his fellow attacking mates.

Hardly did he cross the centerline to join attack as his core duty was to close the chapter on Pele, and that, he perfectly executed.

Silencing Pele in the game forced New York Cosmos to introduce another attacker in the game, this time an African brother to George and a South African by birth – Jomo Sono.

Sono later became the head coach of the South Africa national team – Bafana Bafana – but the dude was a real gem in his playing days; very skilful, pacey and had long drive abilities.

If Lamptey was on for Pele, Sono came on for Lamptey and the face of the game changed. Cosmos turned on an unbearable pressure capable of forcing a miscarriage on Chicago Sting.

But Lamptey, with his Ghanaian instinct of hard work, determination and dedication found an antidote for his African compatriot too.

Lamptey was not only a giant whose voice resonated fear but his hopping runs and aggressive tackles gave him those fearful look attackers always found in defenders.

He may not have been a popular player on the continent in his days, but he made himself and Ghana proud in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the USA.

Watch the full proceedings of the game and Lamptey’s contribution from the 70th minute when he came on in the video below:

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