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Sports News of Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Source: footy-Ghana

Jeff Schlupp (version 2.00) ready to cross the 'red sea'

"I'm buzzing for Jeff. He's absolutely top-class and he's worked so hard for this opportunity, what with having to adjust to a new position."

Grinning Liam Moore, could not hold his glee for his mate who literally has one foot on the plane to this year's Mundial slated for Brazil in summer - deservedly as he recalls the scene to the Leicester Mercury.

"I have every belief in him, and if he shows the kind of form he's shown for us recently, he will do brilliantly."

"We were in Thailand when he found out (about the call-up), and I knew he was hoping for a call so I was hovering around him to find out."

Moore further added:

"Then his phone went and he had the biggest smile on his face, he was so happy. He was over the moon, all the lads are so proud of him."

"The ones who have been to major tournaments before, like Marcin Wasilewski, came over to speak to him .... we're all hoping that he makes it (the final 23-man squad). "

Standing at a marquee height of 1.78m (of course, a rare figure for left-backs), weighing 72kg, the 21-year-old Hamburg-born capped an impressive 26 appearances in the Championship, catapulting his side Leicester City to the most-popular league next season - the English Premier League, as they annexed the second-tier division's title with couple of games to spare.

The ambidextrous Jeffrey Schlupp came to the limelight - from a Ghanaian perspective - in 2011 when he featured in a friendly game against Gabon, under coach Goran Stevanovic. The then-forward replaced Prince Tagoe in the match eventually making his coveted debut for the country.

Jeffrey Schlupp went undercover for a pretty long while and had glimmering chance of returning to his beloved motherland.

Apparently, Ghanaians had wholly forgotten, there once existed a certain 19-year-old Jeff.

Fast-forward to 3 years down the lane, another Jeff pops up - and oh hold on - not the naive 19-year-old centre-forward Ghanaians once knew; rather a left-back who had ousted the injured-experienced English international, Paul Konchesky from his newly found-loved-playing-spot.

Jeffrey Schlupp (version 2.00) resurfaced somewhere, couple of days back when Ghana coach, Kwesi Appiah capped the lad's stupendous campaign with a potential World Cup squad player tag. His name heavily graved in the preliminary 26-man squad with three names to be shredded off someday before the tourney.

Jeff will hope to replicate his commendable form that has made him a darling boy to fans of Leicester, in Ghana colours, hence making the final cut.

However, it didn't take too long a time for Jeff to -fair to say- thwart the conceptions of many a pessimist as he bossed the entire left side of the field in Ghana's first friendly ahead of the tourney- against a selected side from the local league. The latter were trounced by 1-6.

Schlupp exhibited glimpses of what Ghanaians had not seen the once kid-like attacker-turned-defender, had become of himself.

Marauding runs. Full of exuberance. Calm nerves. Aggression and relentlessness, though he looked to have improved his crosses and dribbling accuracy and upped his recovery rate which have been his flaws all this while in his newly found-loved-position.

Though most Ghanaians were impressed with his display last Friday, the state of agog was ephemeral as some brushed off saying ".... after all it was against a weaker side. Let's till next week when Ghana lock horns with the Netherlands on May 31".

Absolutely, that game would go a long way for Jeff to win the hearts and confidence of Ghanaians utterly and perhaps add his other foot to the flock en route to represent the nation in Brazil or otherwise.

Unlike most left-footed players, Jeff is able to play with his right foot as well, scoring against Milwall earlier in January with an instinctive stereotypical sublime finish of a striker-by-trade.

Schlupp would go toe-to-toe with Harrison Afful of Esperance of Tunis, rumoured to be on Olympique Marseille's radar for the left-back spot, given he crosses the 'red-sea' to that sacred land.

Indeed Afful, Inkoom and Opare have got a real chap brimming with talent, relishing any magnitude of competition for a potential starting berth.

Schlupp's versatility to play as left-winger together with his previous and current roles, makes him a clean-top blood for most coaches and would prove a handful for any opposition on any good day.

Vindicated! "The latter shall be greater than the former," like they say.

Version 2.00 of Jeffrey Schlupp looks more ready to don the national colours than version 1.00 - but ultimately, time has the final say.

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