Thomas Partey: Arsenal & Ghana star’s rise to the top

Published on: 18 January 2021

Things haven’t gone entirely to plan for Thomas Partey at Arsenal since the Ghana midfielder’s arrival at the Emirates Stadium from Atletico Madrid.

However, the Black Stars powerhouse has proved time and time again his ability to overcome obstacles; Gunners fans should expect him to come back bigger and better upon his return.

The West African has encountered setbacks before, but on each occasion, has overcome the obstacles presented to him and found solutions to make him stronger in the long run.

This has been true since his youth, where he was raised in humble beginnings in Ghana—his father even had to sell his possessions in order to fund Partey’s visa to Spain in order to embark on his footballing career.

The international’s mother was a petty trader, who bought and sold goods in order to provide for Partey and his seven brothers and sisters, and it’s clear that both she and the 27-year-old’s father made massive sacrifices in order to support their son.

“He made a big effort and he sold things in order to get my papers and to buy me boots,” Partey once told journalists. “He had helped me since I was small as without boots you could not play.

“He also helped a lot for the team from my neighbourhood and I remember we brought food.”

Despite the hardship, Partey’s family found solutions to their problems, they did whatever it takes to get their boy to the top, and to increase his life possibilities.

It would be an understatement to say that Partey has taken the ball and run with it, while his determined and dogged displays in La Liga with Atletico clearly demonstrated the same traits imbued in him by his father.

“He would go out with us in the early mornings to run to the mountains,” Partey told The Guardian last year. “We would be jumping, heading leaves and all those things.

“He was my first coach.”

Those same traits of tenacity and ingenuity that characterised his parents’ entrepreneurship and sacrifice as they sought to give him the best opportunities has subsequently characterised his career on and off the field.

Things haven’t always been plain-sailing, and indeed, Partey remembered last year how tough those early months in Spain were.

“It was difficult, it was different,” he recalled. “It was cold and I was not used to that.

“I had to change my mind, change my mentality, my way of thinking.”

After struggling to make the breakthrough with Atletico, Partey was loaned to Almeria, and endured relegation from La Liga with the club in the 2014-15 season, despite the West African’s manful performances in the midfield.

It represented a turning point in his career, and few could have been too surprised had Diego Simeone opted to offload the Ghanaian rather than give him a chance at Atleti.

Clearly, the Argentinean coach had been impressed by Partey’s commanding performances in the heart of the park.

“I always say, if I would be an animal, I would be an octopus,” he said. “I remember when I was in Almeria they called me ‘the octopus’ because I stole a lot of balls.”

Even after being given more playing time under Simeone, he had to wait until the 2017-18 season before truly becoming an undisputed starter, with the previous seasons characterised by some near misses domestically and failure in the Champions League final of 2016.

By the time of his departure from Spain, however, that winning mentality and determination to find a solution to any problem had shone through.

He was victorious in the 2018 Europa League final as Atletico dispatched Olympique de Marseille, and also marked his 100th league outings for the capital club with a commanding display against Real Madrid in late 2019.

Now, he has a new challenge, and while his early time at Arsenal has been beset by the club’s own problems and his fitness issues, Partey has proven—since a young age—that he has the character to make a success of his situation.

Watch him do it again...!

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