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Sports Features of Saturday, 30 September 2017

Source: Michael Quaye

What is the sense in Charles Taylor’s effusions?

In a bizarre outpour of past frustrations, former footballer Charles Taylor has caught the attention of the Ghanaian football public with his recent effusions about his misfortune at Hearts of Oak.

This latest rendition of an old story he has intended to foist on his listeners on radio has been accompanied by a supposed advice to Hearts of Oak playmaker Winful Cobbinah, urging the attacking midfielder to abandon the club and join key rivals Asante Kotoko instead.

The interest generated by Taylor’s rehashed public comments about his avowed hatred for Hearts is understandable, given that the former player enjoyed his best playing days at so-called Continental Club Masters.

For, as a key component of the famous 64 Battalion that conquered Ghana and Africa in year 2000, his account about the inner workings and operations of the club during their all-conquering years would sell for thousands of dollars or pounds in America or Europe.

Here in Ghana, the hype of media attention hardly attracts similar rewards. This reality appears to lend some credibility to the belief that Taylor’s ceaseless public criticism of Hearts is engineered by unseen characters for a remote motive; one that does not seem to connect directly to Taylor’s supposed frustrations.

Irrespective of the motive, however, Taylor’s media punches have thrown the spotlight on his own person – the character and attitude that have come to define his unstable personality.

While he holds the right to voice his supposed mistreatment by Hearts, his role in his infamous transfer from Hearts to Kotoko did not cover him in glory for a moment. It is in this light that his public utterances of late must invite the necessary inquest into his own conduct.

It is a shame that the talent Taylor was could not shine in proper form beyond the shores of Ghana. But even more regrettable is the seeming reckless banter he seeks to invite upon himself after the kind of decisions enforced by his malleable nature.

That he is far less blessed with wisdom in comparison with the talent he showed on the field is not strange at all, given that elderly and better-educated politicians fail to show higher standards.

But where wisdom fails him, his memory must guide him.

It will be recalled that despite his acrimonious transfer from Hearts to Kotoko, Taylor still returned to play for Hearts when his contract with Esperance of Tunisia ran into problems.

At the time of his return to Hearts, Taylor seemed unconcerned about the many hearts he might have broken, and the many egos he might have bruised when he breached a contract he admitted to have signed with Hearts to force through his transfer to Kotoko.

Those hearts and those egos will definitely include the benefactor businessman in whose house he lived at Teshie until his belongings were packed and shipped to Kumasi on the night of the same day he showed up at a Hearts match at the Accra Stadium to apologise for his flirtations with Kotoko.

The scenario, given that he played for Hearts on two different occasions and much longer than his days with Kotoko provides an interesting dimension to his avowed bitterness towards Hearts.

It, therefore, provokes the question: Is Taylor being truthful on his effusions about Hearts?

If Taylor found it wise to play for Hearts twice, why is he advising Winful Cobbinah to shun the club? Why is his advice limited to Cobbinah and not a caution to all football players?

If ever there is a reason for Taylor’s public outbursts against Hearts, only the club and the former player will know the details. What Taylor has thrown into the public space is, however, hardly a reasonable cause for the one-sided argument.

Hearts may have avoided the argument so far, but none can deny that the club offered Taylor the biggest platform to showcase his talent. Indeed, it was his performances alongside players such as Ishmael Addo, Emanuel Osei Kuffour, Emmanuel Adjogu, Charles Allotey, Edmund Copson, Lawrence Adjah Tetteh, Sammy Adjei, Dan Quaye, Stephen Tetteh, Jacob Nertey, Amankwa Mireku, among others, that propelled him into the Black Stars.

Taylor himself appears ignorant about the fact that he is just but one of the many players who crossed from one side of the Hearts-Kotoko rivalry to the other.

Yet, while the likes of C.K. Gyamfi, Osei Kofi, Edward Ansah, Opoku Afriyie, Sampson Lamptey, Thomas Hammond (Bashiru Gambo), Kalilu Dramani, Edward Agyemang Duah, Godwin Ablordey, Emmanuel Yartey, Yaw Sakyi, and other admirable talents graced the dressing rooms and team sheets of the big rivals, none of them immersed themselves in the kind of controversy that somehow caused some fanatics to evoke curses on a genuine football talent.

When he climbed down the Ford bus in the company of a pregnant lady supposed to be his partner that fateful Friday afternoon at the Wangara Hotel at Labone in Accra where the GFA began a process of resolving the bitter transfer saga involving him, the common chat was that it was Kotoko’s gift to him for accepting to join the club.

It turned out the bus belonged to a club supporter who facilitated his travel to the “meeting ground” to obscure Kotoko’s involvement with him at that point.

When he returned from Esperance with a knee injury that would somehow affect the rest of his career, it was Hearts who sought medical help for him in South Africa.

If Taylor has an unimpressive account balance today or that he failed to reap the maximum from his massive talent before injury and ultimate retirement intervened, the reasons fall with him and not with any club he played for.

He turned down foreign contracts to Switzerland and/or Israel at the time to attain the dream move to Kotoko, despite the public cautioning by his mother.

When former Olympics chief executive, Mr Joseph Ade Coker, said “you can’t force a reluctant horse”, in reference to Taylor’s resolve to leave the club for Hearts at all cost, he expressed the bitter feeling of the club’s supporters.

For, it was Olympics that dug out the raw talent of Taylor from Sefwi and polished it to the standard that initially caused a transfer rift between Hearts and Kotoko when he decided to leave the club in 2000.

News of his inclination to Christ and the gospel a few years back appeared so encouraging, given his relationship with a juju-infested sport that football in Ghana has been.

Hearing the kind of witness he has crusaded recently is a matter humans can only leave in the hands of God.

But his indecisive character and recent conduct strip him of the status of an icon, the type who stands the high ground to advise others.

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