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FEATURE: Ghana's U-20 World Cup winners: Where are they now?

Published on: 17 October 2017

 

Monday marked the eighth anniversary of Ghana's dramatic penalty shootout to win against Brazil to land Africa's first title at world U-20 level. At the forefront of that triumph were players like Andre Ayew, Jonathan Mensah and Emmanuel Agyemang Badu.

 Every year since that triumph, an inevitable question is asked: Where are the players who masterminded that victory?

Daniel Agyei: The penalty shootout hero for Ghana spent some time after the tournament in Egypt in and around the Black Stars squad, but has been missing in recent times. He had spells in South Africa with Free State Stars, played for Ghanaian clubs Liberty Professionals and Medeama and is now on the books of Jimma Abba Jifar in Ethiopia.

Samuel Inkoom: Banned by FIFA for a year for failing to sort out issues with his agent, his career has been in something of a free fall too. He has been part of two World Cup squads but has not had much of a chance since Brazil 2014. Before the FIFA ban, he went from playing UEFA Champions League football with Basel to Bulgarian football. In between there were spells in Ukraine, Turkey, USA all without much success.

Daniel Opare: His career has been undermined by injuries but he is back to playing regularly for club side Augsburg while regaining his place in the Black Stars squad. It is not the progress many envisioned when he first made the breakthrough at U-17 level but still better than nothing.

Jonathan Mensah: He has built on his career significantly as far as international football is concerned. He has played in two World Cups for Ghana since the U-20 triumph in 2009, and has been a regular member of the country's Africa Cup of Nations squads, playing in the 2015 final. At club level he had spells in France and Russia before heading to Major League Soccer, where has overcome a poor start at Columbus Crew to earn a steady place.

Daniel Addo: Addo was the hard man beside the elegant Mensah and it is a job he did remarkably well. Yet all hopes of earning a big money move after the tournament did not materialize for the former King Faisal man. He tried out in Ukraine, then returned home with Asante Kotoko while never regaining his form from age-group level. Now he plays in the Northern Cyprus League.

David Addy: Addy's left foot and runs down the left side of the team was an integral reason why the victorious Ghana team was so deadly going forward. He seemed to build on that success after the tournament with a few senior international caps, and a steady stream of games in Portugal, Greece and Belgium. Recently he has played in India and Finland and is now on the books of Riga FC in Latvia.

Emmanuel Agyemang Badu: The midfielder scored the winning penalty in Egypt, keeping his calm and delivering when a continent expected. He has had a steady career too, which can be considered a successful progression from youth football. Badu spent seven years at Udinese before moving on to Bursaspor in Turkey this year. Until recently, he was a Black Stars regular, playing at the 2014 World Cup and in each of the last four Nations Cups.

Andre Ayew: Like Badu, Dede has built significantly on the heady days of the U-20 team. While he had already been capped for the senior team, his success at U-20 level launched his career, and by the time 2010 World Cup took place, he was a Ayew was a regular in the team. He then developed into an integral part of the Olympic Marseille team, before he eventually left in 2015 to Swansea City, where his goals earned him a big money move to West Ham.

Ransford Osei: He was supposed to be the answer to Ghana's long-term goal scoring problems and five goals in Egypt suggested he could do that. Like some members of the side, his career has become heavily nomadic with failure in Israel, South Africa and recently Finland. He is currently listed as a free agent.

Dominic Adiyiah: Eight goals in Egypt earned him not just the Golden Boot but put him in the esteemed company of Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, who all won the award. The company he has kept since in his career has not been remotely close to what the three Argentina internationals mentioned above achieved. He signed for AC Milan, for whom he never kicked a ball, and was denied the goal that would have taken Ghana into the semifinal of the World Cup by the hand of Luis Suarez. While on the books of the Rossoneri, he spent time on loan elsewhere in Italy, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine, before eventually settling in Thailand in 2015.

Opoku Agyemang: The tireless workhorse made the step up to the senior side at the 2010 Nations Cup before injuries begun to wreck his career following a move to Levski Sofia. He has not played football since 2012 and lives in Qatar at the time of writing.

Mohammed Rabiu: The midfielder has suffered with injuries for the last three years after making the step up to the Black Stars. He is currently on the lookout for a new club after his last club, Anzhi Makhachkala, released him.

By Michael Oti Adjei, KweséESPN

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