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The controversial career of Kevin-Prince Boateng

Kevin-Prince Boateng stunned fans and commentators in Ghana with the announcement of his resignation from Black Stars duty, citing concerns regarding his health, less than two months prior to the 2012 African Nations Cup in Gabon & Equitorial Guinea.

Boateng's decision is even more bewildering, considering the fact that he assured the Ghana FA of his commitment to the national team just last month. His resignation is likely to come under intense scrutiny following a few incidents of alleged insubordination with Ghana coach Goran Stefanovic earlier in the year.

However, Boateng's apparent lack of commitment to the national team may come as little surprise to his sceptics in Ghana. The AC Milan midfielder's short-lived international career has been somewhat turbulent to date.

Prior to Ghana's maiden World Cup campaign in 2006, the German-born Ghanaian actually declined the opportunity to represent the Black Stars upon invitation.

It is believed that this was in the hope of holding out for a call-up from Germany, having gained a reputation representing the junior sides while playing for Hertha Berlin.

Underlying reasons

The lure of the World Cup four years later persuaded Kevin-Prince to switch allegiances from Germany to Ghana in 2010, but there are several underlying reasons as to why he may have decided to make this switch.

Perhaps, as a 22 year-old, the midfielder had come to the realisation that the opportunity to break into the German national side would be limited.

Established players such as Bastian Schweinsteiger and Michael Ballack had long-cemented their positions in Germany's starting XI, while others such as Sami Khedira and Simon Rolfes had caught the attention of head coach Joachim Löw as competition for the central midfield places.

Additionally, there were rumours of alleged confrontations with German teammates in the 2007 edition of the Toulon Tournament in France.

Reports also began to surface concerning disputes between Boateng and Michael Ballack; the last of which took place on-field during the 2010 FA Cup final between Chelsea and Portsmouth.

Shop window

Other reasons may include the shop window opportunity: well before May 2010, Portsmouth had effectively already been consigned to relegation from the Premier League and faced losing many of their players, Boateng included.

The World Cup provided an international stage for which the midfielder could display his ability in the hope of attracting potential suitors.

Boateng slotted straight in to the Black Stars' starting XI and following a string of impressive performances for Ghana in the World Cup, including a spectacular solo goal against USA, Boateng was able to secure a reported £5million transfer from Portsmouth to Genoa.

As part of the deal, he was immediately loaned to Serie A giants Milan on a year-long deal, with a view to a permanent transfer.

Boateng's international performances subsequent to securing his move to the Rossoneri were, generally, not well-received, especially his home debut in Kumasi against Congo. The midfielder was accused of a lackadaisical effort in the local media in a 3-1 victory during which he was substituted.

Starting place

Given the ease with which Boateng earned a starting place in the Ghana line-up, it becomes evident as to why he may have taken his position for granted.

This is in addition to the speed at which his Ghanaian registration was obtained in comparison to, for example, the Norwegian-born goalkeeper Adam Lars Kwarasey.

Kwarasey reportedly indicated his intention to represent Ghana around the same time as Boateng, towards the end of 2009 but only received his international clearance earlier this year.

But the decision to retire at just 24, presumably sometime before his prime, is a decision likely to be condemned in Ghana and throughout the continent. And further raises the issue concerning the club versus country debate.

Moreover, this regrettable scenario may even cause FIFA to revise the recently-modified law concerning players switching national allegiances, if players are to take advantage of their dual nationality in the hope of merely being scouted on the World Cup stage.

Midfield options

All is not lost for the Black Stars' 2012 ANC campaign as they are certainly not short of midfield options: Boateng seldom featured in Ghana’s qualification rounds during which they topped the group conceding just a solitary goal. 

Udinese's Agyemang-Badu has been a key component of the Bianconeri midfield while Derek Boateng has also recently re-emerged as a central figure in the Ghana midfield. Chelsea’s Michael Essien will also be in contention when he recovers from injury.

Aged 24 Boateng still has the opportunity to overturn his decision, as he looks to continue his majestic form at club level.

But should he reverse his decision yet again, he may find that he is not welcomed back into the Black Stars camp with open arms as he was in South Africa before the 2010 World Cup.

Kofi Gyamera-Mensa


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