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Tony Yeboah: From Ghana And Back Again

Antony “Tony” Yeboah is regarded as one of the best strikers to ever grace Ghanaian football and was a highly competent forward who built a reputation for scoring remarkable goals.

After honing his talents in his native Ghana he moved to Europe, most notably playing in both the German and English leagues along with a spell in Qatar.

Yeboah became a cult hero, especially in the Premier League, remembered fondly as a bullish yet quick-thinking attacker with a powerful strike.

Made In Africa

Yeboah was born in the Southern Ghanaian city of Kumasi and spent the majority of his youth playing in or around his hometown.

The forward made his debut for Asante Kotoko in 1981 aged just fifteen. He found immediate success as part of a squad that won three consecutive Ghana Premier League titles – in 1981, 1982 and 1983 along with the African Cup of Champions that same year.

Following the campaign’s conclusion, Yeboah switched across the city to Cornerstones FC, playing with the club for two seasons and finishing as the Ghana Premier League’s top scorer in both 1986 and 1987.

That year he moved to Okwawu United which are based in Nkawkaw, the Capital of Kuwait. During the season he had an immense impact and began to show his true prowess in front of goal. At the age of 21, Yeboah amassed 35 goals in as many games across all competitions.

Success In Germany

His performances had finally captured the imagination of European football and in 1988, Yeboah joined Bundesliga 2 club FC Saarbrucken.

The move brought with it some historical significance as he became one of the first black players to appear in the German top flight.

Yeboah’s first year proved relatively mediocre as he netted just 11 times in 32 matches. However, his second campaign was more fruitful, scoring 17 league goals and registering 20 strikes overall.

The Ghanaian remained in Germany yet with his stock rising, he made the move to top tier side Eintracht Frankfurt in 1990. It took Yeboah two seasons to fully settle in the Bundesliga.

Yet during his third campaign, the Ghanaian delivered his greatest season performance, scoring an impressive 30 goals and claiming the German league’s Golden Boot for 1992/93.
He was named runner-up for African Footballer of the Year in 1993 behind Rashidi Yekini and finished ninth in FIFA’s World Player of the Year.

Yeboah also won the Bundesliga Golden Boot for a second consecutive season during the 1993/94 campaign. Despite winning no honours with Frankfurt, his time in Germany was a success, Yeboah becoming the first African Bundesliga club captain too.

Premier League Football

In January 1995, Yeboah made the decision to join English club Leeds United for £3.4 million and in his first two seasons forged his reputation as a scorer of spectacular goals.

During his first campaign, despite arriving in England halfway through the 1994/95 season, the Ghanaian found the net 12 times in 21 league matches, helping Leeds secure a fifth-place finish and as a result qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Yeboah was voted Leeds United Player of the Year following his second-season display. During the 1995/96 campaign, he scored two of his most memorable strikes, an epic volley versus Liverpool and his thunderous shot against Wimbledon.

He also drove Leeds on to the 1996 League Cup final where they faced Aston Villa but ultimately missed out following a comprehensive 3-0 defeat. The Ghanaian hit a total of 32 goals for Leeds United in 66 appearances and is still cast as a cult legend at Elland Road to this day.

Leeds appointed George Graham as manager in 1996 which seemingly spelt the end for Yeboah at the Yorkshire club. Citing “a clash of personalities,” with his new boss, the striker’s time at Elland Road drew to an abrupt close, having played on just six times across the 1996/97 season.

Later Career

In September 1997, Yeboah joined German club Hamburger SV for a fee of €1.2 million. He played four full seasons with the Bundesliga side, appearing 121 times and scoring a total of 35 goals. His finest campaign came in 1998/99 when he found the net 14 times in the league alone.

By 2001, Yeboah’s adventure in Germany had run its course. The forward then switched to the Qatari league to play for Al Ittihad and saw initial success with his new club. At the close of his first season in 2001/02, Yeboah claimed a domestic double including the Qatar Stars League title and the Emir of Qatar Cup, alongside finishing as runner-up in the Qatar Cup.

The Ghanaian finally retired from club football in 2002 at the age of 36. He made a total of 411 appearances across a twenty-year career for seven different sides and scored an impressive 194 goals!

Playing For Ghana

Yeboah made his international debut in 1985 and played for his country over the next twelve years. He featured in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and finished as runner-up in 1992’s competition, Ghana losing 11-10 on penalties following a hard-fought 0-0 draw vs Ivory Coast.

The striker hit 29 goals in 59 caps, becoming the fourth-highest goal scorer in Ghana’s history behind only Kwasi Owusu, Edward Acquah and Asamoah Gyan. He was also named 1997’s Ghana Footballer of the Year before finally retiring from international football the same year aged 31.

After Football

After waving goodbye to the game in 2002, Yeboah chose a life away from the limelight and spent his first twelve months working as a scout for former side Hamburg. Over the next few years, the Ghanaian stepped away from the sport.

However, in 2008 Yeboah took on the role of chairman for the newly promoted Ghana Premier League club Berekum Chelsea. The side quickly found success and by 2011 they had become Ghanaian champions for the very first time.

Today, Yeboah runs both an international sports agency and a chain of hotels in Ghana.

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