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Kevin-Prince Boateng: The gifted, abused and unpredictable star who forged a unique path through the game

Kevin-Prince Boateng: The gifted, abused and unpredictable star who forged a unique path through the game
Not many footballers shine in the shadow of their extra profitable, celebrity brother. Kevin-Prince Boateng’s frequent flashes in a pan have lit up every membership, league and nation he’s stopped by in his nomadic tour throughout Europe and the world.

His eccentric and scorching character is mirrored in his unpredictable game, one filled with tips, energy and controversy. His relationships together with his friends, counterparts, golf equipment and nations have been tumultuous to say the least, in a loopy profession that has taken in Berlin, London, Milan, Johannesburg and Accra.

Born in Berlin to a Ghanaian father and German mom, Boateng took his first steps in soccer with Hertha Berlin at the age of seven, becoming a member of the academy seven years earlier than his half-brother, Jérôme. Kevin-Prince and Jérôme shared the similar father however have been born to totally different German moms a yr aside.

By the age of 18, Kevin-Prince was making his skilled debut for Hertha, spending the second half of the following season enjoying alongside Jérôme in the Bundesliga. That was till the summer time of 2007, which noticed them cut up as Kevin-Prince joined Tottenham and Jérôme went to Hamburg. The two haven’t performed collectively in a aggressive game since.

Kevin-Prince Boateng watched from the stands as Tottenham lifted the Carling Cup at Wembley throughout his first season in England, although at such a younger age, he did not make a actual influence in the Premier League and returned to Germany in January 2009. A mortgage spell beneath Jürgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund didn’t do his disciplinary status any favours – a four-match suspension for a kick to Makoto Hasebe’s head throughout a game with Wolfsburg the most memorable second.

At the age of 22 and after 20 appearances for the Germany youth sides, Boateng selected to modify his worldwide allegiance to the nation of his father, Ghana. His debut for the African nation didn’t come till a yr later after FIFA’s alteration of the guidelines stagnated the course of.

By then, Boateng had spent one other season in England, making 22 Premier League appearances as financially-stricken Portsmouth have been relegated. One other last towards Chelsea beneath the Wembley arch made him an unpopular individual again in Germany as tensions between Boateng and the Joachim Löw’s nationwide group hit new heights.

Didier Drogba’s chic free-kick gained the FA Cup last for Chelsea, however Boateng’s problem on Michael Ballack misplaced him the respect of many in the nation of his delivery. The German midfielder managed to nip the ball away earlier than Boateng caught him on the ankle and then adopted through onto his knee. Ballack was pressured off and ended up lacking the World Cup, a lot to the dismay of Löw and his squad.

Having made enemies again house, Boateng lined up alongside his Ghana teammates for the first time towards Latvia in Accra. Resulting from an damage to Michael Essien, the shining beacon of Ghanaian soccer at the time, Boateng discovered himself in rivalry for a beginning spot in South Africa that summer time.

It was beside Anthony Annan in central midfield that Boateng made his first World Cup look in the opening group game towards Serbia. With the scores degree heading into the remaining ten minutes, Boateng waited on the fringe of the penalty space as a cross got here in from the left. Together with his physique positioned completely to catch the stray ball on the volley, Serbia’s Zdravko Kuzmanovi? panicked handball denied him a objective, although it allowed Asamoah Gyan to transform from the spot to provide Ghana all three factors.

One other spot-kick from Gyan noticed the Black Stars decide up a level towards Australia earlier than two brothers confronted off in Johannesburg. Jérôme and his German teammates have been up towards Kevin-Prince’s Ghana, with the European powerhouse needing a win to progress after defeat to Serbia.

Mesut Özil’s winner got here from the fringe of the field on the hour-mark however, because of Australia’s win over Serbia, Ghana have been through to the knockout levels for a second successive World Cup. Landon Donovan’s dramatic end towards Algeria set-up a final 16 assembly between the USA and Ghana in Rustenburg.

With Ghana proving to be the solely African nation to make it through the group levels, the entire continent swarmed into place to again their remaining consultant in a flurry of color and noise.

The United States’ Ricardo Clark, like many others, was caught out by the functionality of Ghana’s midfield as Kwando Asamoah robbed him of the ball in the centre circle. It fell to Boateng, the 23-year-old drove deep into American territory earlier than slotting previous Tim Howard at his close to publish, a lot to the delight of the residence crowd. Donovan’s second-half penalty took the tie to additional time earlier than Gyan’s tempo and energy proved an excessive amount of for the US defence earlier than the striker fired house.

Followers round the world have been having fun with the pleasure and exuberance this Ghanaian aspect needed to supply. Nevertheless, with hovering highs typically come agonising lows. Uruguay have been the solely ones standing between Ghana and a semi-final spot – one thing no African nation had achieved earlier than.

Sulley Muntari despatched the continent wild with a aim from distance earlier than Diego Forlán curled the South People degree from a free-kick. Then it got here. Adiyah’s header, Suárez’s hand, and Gyan’s heartache. All in a manic couple of minutes. The shoot-out completed earlier than Boateng might take his penalty. Ghana, and the remainder of Africa, have been out. “After getting out of the group it was definitely our aim to reach the semi-finals,” Boateng informed FIFA years later. “I think we deserved to as well, people could see how much passion there was in our game, we had the fans and the whole continent behind us.”

A co-ownership deal noticed the midfielder transfer to Italy and turn out to be a Genoa participant, lining up for the first Serie A game of the season in the well-known purple and black of AC Milan after instantly shifting there on mortgage. The deal was made everlasting after a powerful first marketing campaign that ended with the Rossoneri profitable the Scudetto underneath Massimiliano Allegri.

Boateng slotted into a star-studded group that included the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovi?, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Ronaldinho, with the Ghanaian adjusting to a extra superior position at the head of a four-man diamond. A return to White Hart Lane got here in the Champions League final 16 however the Italian aspect have been unable to beat their first-leg defeat at the San Siro.

If you consider Kevin-Prince Boateng, you probably affiliate him with the skilful, bodily aggressor in Milan’s midfield throughout his second season in Italy. An unforgettable strike towards Barcelona in the Champions League group levels mixed technical potential with uncooked energy, as a heel-flick took him past Éric Abidal earlier than firing previous Victor Valdés at his close to submit.

At occasions he might win video games on his personal. By no means was this cliché extra relevant than an unassuming journey to Lecce in October 2011. The Serie A minnows discovered themselves Three-Zero up towards the champions in entrance of their very own followers at half-time. With extra hope than expectation, Allegri threw Boateng into the motion from the bench and the match was turned on its head.

A sweetly-struck volley from the left foot of Boateng made a comeback seem potential, if nonetheless barely miraculous. Boateng then despatched one other first-time effort flying into the prime nook from the fringe of the 18-yard field to make the Milan followers consider. All of a sudden, Lecce’s defence was panicking, wanting over their shoulders in worry somewhat than precaution.

Massimiliano Benassi couldn’t hold Boateng’s third out at his close to publish and, with a hat-trick after 20 second-half minutes, Boateng had hauled his staff degree. Mario Yepes accomplished the extraordinary turnaround inside the final ten minutes, although the scoreline solely mirrored the influence of 1 man.

The midfielder’s goalscoring exploits got here to the fore as soon as once more when Arsenal visited the San Siro in the Champions League final 16. Boateng nipped between Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen and latched onto Antonio Nocerino’s clipped ball earlier than unleashing an arching half-volley that crashed in off the crossbar. Barcelona denied them a place in the final 4 however that disappointment was put into perspective in Boateng’s remaining yr in Italy.

A mid-season pleasant at fourth-tier Professional Patria noticed the Ghanaian subjected to surprising racist abuse from the stands. His determination to stroll off the pitch and the subsequent abandonment of the game was recommended by individuals throughout the world, each in soccer and out.

Later that season, objectives from Ghanaians Boateng and Muntari gave AC Milan a commanding lead going into the second leg of their Champions League final 16 tie with Barcelona at the Camp Nou. Nevertheless, a Lionel Messi-inspired Blaugrana put 4 previous a despairing Christian Abbiati to ship the Rossoneri packing earlier than the final 4 once more. Antonio Conte’s Juventus have been the Scudetto winners once more in Might earlier than Boateng stated his goodbyes to calcio.

Schalke profited from a decided Boateng throughout his first two seasons again in the Bundesliga earlier than an ill-tempered fall-out resulted in his contract being terminated midway through the 2015/16 season.

Whereas the Boateng brothers met one another a few occasions throughout Kevin-Prince’s second stint in Germany, their most high-profile face-off got here at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. By then, Jérôme had absolutely established himself as certainly one of the greatest central defenders in the world and can be a stalwart in the German aspect that might raise the trophy in Rio.

The group stage match between Germany and Ghana was hotly contested and entertaining to observe. Kevin-Prince needed to make do with the position of spectator till the 52nd minute, when he made an look off the bench, instantly after Mario Götze’s opener. Two minutes later, Ghana have been degree through Andre Ayew, earlier than Asamoah Gyan fired previous Manuel Neuer to offer the Black Stars an unlikely lead. Miroslav Klose netted an equaliser in the 71st minute as each groups settled for a level.

Ghana’s prospects of development to the knockout levels appeared slim going into their last group game with Portugal, and preparations weren’t helped by Boateng and Muntari. Each have been expelled from the squad on the eve of the game and left to journey residence in shame. “Everything – the hotels, the flights – everything was amateurish,” Boateng advised Bild after the event. “It was a nightmare from the first day of the preparation to the end.

“The flight from [pre-tournament preparations in Miami] to Brazil took 12 hours and we sat concentrated in economy class. The legs ached. It sounds strange for an average citizen, but for a competitive athlete that is a disgrace. The FA president sat in business class with his wife and two children. And then in Brazil, we finally had a charter flight but my luggage was lost. Two days without football boots – it was a disaster. We were not a real team. Everyone was busy with themselves.”

And so, after a temporary return to worldwide soccer, Boateng retired from representing the nation of his father for the second time. Since his departure from Schalke, he’s hung out in Spain, Germany and Italy, with Las Palmas, Freiburg and Sassuolo respectively.

His nomadic march throughout Europe has been dashed with genius and controversy, brilliance and altercation, however one factor is for positive, he did all of it hos personal means.

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