Soccer News of Thursday, 13 May 2010


Prince Buaben on a mission win Scottish Cup medal for his late father

Prince Buaben has been through the emotional wringer this season. While he has the chance to finish on a high on Saturday in the Active Nation Scottish Cup final against Ross County, success for the Dundee United midfield player would come into the bittersweet category. Quite apart from his failure to make Ghana’s preliminary squad for the World Cup finals, the 22-year-old is still coming to terms with the death of his father, Christian, two months ago.

After this weekend’s season-ending match, Buaben will return to his homeland for the first time since his father died. Although Peter Houston, the United manager, had given him permission to attend the funeral, the player decided, after much discussion with his family, that he would remain in Scotland to see out the season. It is, he says, what Buaben senior would have wanted.

“I spoke with my mum and she said that my dad had always wanted me to do my best and be a good person — to work hard at whatever I do,” he says. “People have said some stuff, asking why I didn’t go to my dad’s funeral, but I spoke to my mum and she told me that I could stay. She told me that it wasn’t going to be a big deal because my dad would always be with me no matter what I do.”

Buaben, who moved with his mother to the Netherlands when he was nine, admits that he didn’t know his father well enough. Only in recent years was he able to strengthen their relationship. “I always spoke to him, but then, two years ago, I went back to Ghana to see him, and we spent a lot of time together,” he says. “He was a great dad. The time I spent with him made me really happy, and from that moment, I felt I had my dad with me. He was like a friend to me.”

Buaben will be forgiven a glance to the heavens if United win on Saturday. “He will be in my thoughts,” he says. “I feel he is always by my side. Hopefully, he will bring luck to me and the whole team. After the final, I will go back and see the family and, hopefully, take my medal with me.”

Buaben might have had more to do in Africa this summer had he been asked to represent Ghana in the World Cup finals. Although he has been in only one squad, for a friendly against Mexico two years ago, the national coach, Milovan Rajevac, selected him for a match against Zambia last August. Since turning down that opportunity in order to concentrate on United’s opening game of the season, the player has been conspicuously overlooked, despite his growing maturity at Tannadice.

Much has been made of the passing game he and Morgaro Gomis have perfected in the United midfield, but Rajevac was not sufficiently impressed to include him in his initial 30 players for a training camp in France later this month. Laryea Kingston, the Heart of Midlothian player, will be there, alongside another prince, Kevin PrinceBoateng, the Portsmouth player who represented Germany at youth level.

Buaben is putting a brave face on the disappointment. “A few months ago, I spoke to the manager and he said I just had to keep doing well. That gave me a bit of confidence, but I wasn’t really looking towards the World Cup squad,” he says. “I am still young. The likes of [Michael] Essien, [Sulley] Muntari and others are there, so it was always going to be hard to get in the team. Hopefully, in the future, I will be more involved.”

Without that to look forward to, Saturday’s match against Ross County is what Buaben describes as “my moment”. The former Ajax player experienced a youth cup final against Feyenoord, and was in the United team denied by Rangers in the 2008 CIS Insurance Cup final, but this is easily the biggest game of his short career.

Victory would be a fitting climax to what has been a special season for United. Even Buaben’s relatives, not only in Ghana, but in the Netherlands and the United States, understand the significance of it. “I know they have been watching United’s progress this season. They have seen how well we’ve done in finishing third in the league and reaching the cup final,” he says. “I know they will be praying for me and the team to go on and win the cup.”