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Sports News of Wednesday, 26 May 2021


‘I didn’t want to betray Sammy Kuffour’ - Stephen Appiah on Black Stars captaincy

Former Black Stars skipper, Stephen Appiah Former Black Stars skipper, Stephen Appiah

Ex-Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah, considered by many as Ghana’s greatest captain, has said it was difficult for him to accept the Black Stars armband when it was presented to him.

At age 21, Appiah captained the Black Stars for the first time in a friendly match against Slovenia in 2002.

The announcement which at the time was made by the coach hours before kick-off stunned Appiah because he was a youngster finding his feet in the team.

He opposed the coach's decision, saying Richard Kingson, who had been in the team since 1996, deserved the honour, but Appiah said he was backed by the goalkeeper to lead the team for the match which Ghana lost 2-0.

Three years later, then Ghana Football Association (GFA) President Kwasi Nyantakyi led a delegation to Appiah’s house in Osu to convince him to become the substantive captain.

At the time, skipper Charles Akonnor had retired and second-in-command, Sammy Kuffour, was inconsistent.

“It was a difficult decision for many reasons. For one, I didn’t want to betray Kuffour, a man I had admired for so long. He had accomplished so much and had sacrificed a lot for the good of the team.

"Some of the things he had done for the team were also the reason why some people didn’t like him. It could have been part of why he didn’t want the captaincy.

"So it was difficult for me. But I accepted after speaking with Sammy. He encouraged me to take it and assured me of his support. I realised I had started leading the team anyway and the armband was only going to legitimise what I already was,” he told EMY Africa magazine.

“Together with the players, we decided to scrap the existing bonus structure. It didn’t make sense to me that bonuses had to be paid based on seniority and status. The Black Stars had a history of disunity and everyone knew this. So I felt we needed to shift the paradigm,” he added.

The decision to make Appiah captain paid off immensely as through his leadership the Black Stars secured their first-ever Fifa World Cup qualification in 2006.

Appiah ended his Black Stars career with 67 appearances and 14 goals.