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Sports Pictures of Sunday, 27 July 2003

Source: John Ashong-Mettle

David Boateng the Pearl of Liberty Professionals

After the exit of Liberty Professionals star striker, Ernest Papa Arko from the local aura to Zamalek, the Dansoman based club became concerned about a worthy successor. In an answer, attacking midfielder David Boateng has emerged from the shadows and appears to be the veritable replacement. A skipper, he is not but Boateng conducts the football orchestra from the midfield position when playing for Liberty Professionals.

Until crucial goal against Hearts of Oak in a premier league encounter, rescuing Liberty Professionals from a defeat, David Boateng was an unknown player.In Liberty Professionals squad with stars in 2000, the 21-year old prodigy could hope at best, to serve as a spare. But destiny had carved a better role for this whiz kid from Dansoman-Estate renowned for churning quality footballers.

For his supporters the young attacking midfielder is a shade of light and a glimmer of hope at the end of the long, wet, and dark tunnel, from which the country’s football is presently struggling to escape. The soft-spoken player who ran the midfield for Liberty in their 2000 premier league second round clash with Hearts of Oak, notched the game’s opener-a glorious goal dancing past the defence. David Boateng’s lone strike turned out the winner in Liberty’s first ever win over Kumasi Asante Kotoko.

Born December 1982, Boateng is a symbol of an emerging generation of Ghanaian footballers to whom the millennium should belong. Of course he might not be as gifted as Abedi Ayew Pele who clawed world acclamation especially whilst with Olympique Marseille or as lucky as Stephen ”Tonado” Appiah of Juventus, but he has the skill, the heart and the spark to lead Ghanaian football from the abyss to glory.

Six years back David was still an unknown teenager at Dansoman -Estate, a thickly populated suburb of Accra, striking a balance between academics and soccer. A prominent member of the Presec school soccer team, Boateng was always the main attraction at the inter-schools soccer competitions played at the Accra Sports Stadium. It during one of those highly contested games at the sports stadium that Boateng caught the fancy of officials of Liberty Professionals football club. “They invited me and some of my mates to play for them in division one. They didn’t offer much, but then all that we wanted was an opportunity to play.

Initially it was difficult because it meant travelling to Liberty’s base, and my parents steely unwillingness to allow their ward play the game because they held the notion that the game of football is the preserve of school drop-outs, but then, the desire to play big time matches, was too much of an excitement to turn down” he recalls. So Boateng moved to Liberty Professionals camp and within some few months of joining Liberty Professionals announced his presence. As he became an indisputable first choice in the Liberty set-up, the youngster began to attract the attention of foreign scouts and clubs. French division one side Bastia, came calling, also clubs from Italy, Germany, and Holland dangled offers before his eyes.

David Boateng left for Bastia in France for trials, but couldn’t seal up any deal, due to injury. After his not successful attempt in France he returned to Ghana and has since not seen football action until the commencement of the 2003 kinapharma premier league, when Coach Silas Tetteh threw the young lad straight into battle. With the league just eight weeks old, David Boateng is already grabbing the headlines. The player’s latches onto a pass shakes off two defenders, darts past a third and rifles a stunning shot into the top left corner of the net. From the stands hundreds of admiring spectators roar in appreciation chanting Totti” Totti” Totti”.

The chants however are not meant for Italy’s super star striker Francesco Totti: they are meant for Liberty Professional’s David Boateng, a 21year old prodigy as he scores yet another of his trademark goals for Liberty Professionals at the Accra Sports Stadium last two weeks in their game against Stay Cool Professionals. Since spearheading Liberty’s onslaught from 2000 till date, he has become a hero. Like Italy’s star Francesco Totti, Boateng is an intelligent player, his blistering pace, elusive dribbles, and his instinctive finishing in front of goal makes him one of the most promising and feared attacking midfielders in the 2003 kinapharma premier league.

However, his dazzling performance so far in the league has brought back the foreign scouts and clubs, and he is expected to leave for Europe soon. The relationship between the player and his coach Silas Tetteh is symbiotic. Whilst the coach looks to Boateng for success, Boateng relies on the coach to mould him into one of the country’s greatest players. ”I am really content with the coach Silas Tetteh because he has taught me some useful midfield and attacking lessons, such as how to avoid tight marking, and when to out-run defenders. I have also learnt to create chances for others and myself under his guidance. Four goals in nine encounters this season confirm the 21year old as the second best striker after Michael Osei of Kotoko in the premiership, though he is a midfielder.

As Liberty Professionals major star since the exit of Ernest Papa Arko, Boateng seems the right candidate to help turn Liberty’s previous failures into fortunes this season. The 1999 to 2001, belonged to Ishmael Addo when he was 18, 2002, was for Bernard Don Bortey and Charles Taylor from Hearts’ stable. Could 2003, be the year of the 21year old prodigy?