By Nana Yaw Frimpong
After almost a year of waiting, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) received the good news from Fifa that the nationality switch from English to Ghanaian of Arsenal's Emmanuel Frimpong has been granted.
The 20-year-old’s nationality switch makes him the recent successful applicant in Ghana's case after the likes of Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, Kevin-Prince Boateng, and Adam Larsen Kwarasey.
Frimpong, unlike some of the others already cited, was born in Ghana and only left for Britain while yet a child. Even though he caught the eye of England’s youth team coaches not long after he got signed for Arsenal (which he impressively did at age nine) and actually racked up a handful of caps for the Under-16 and U17, the midfielder declared he had long set his heart on representing his land of birth, even as his adopted country looked to harness his services at the highest level.
While patiently waiting for his application to be sorted out and doing his best to ward off interest from successive covetous England managers, Frimpong blossomed into a fine player, a steady development aided by loan moves around England and interspersed with healthful cameos with the Gunners’ first-team. Nevertheless, he remains an unknown quantity to those Ghanaians not really committed to devoting much of their weekends to the English Premier League; a sizable majority, in fact. So then, a little introduction would not hurt, would it? Well, to start with, the Kumasi-born is, by definition, a midfielder (although he has been shifted around at the back during some of the Gunners’ more recent defensive crisis and would certainly be helpful to Ghana in that respect if need ever be), albeit one more reminiscent of Alexander Song than Xavi Hernandez, if you know what that means.
Generally, he is regarded as a younger version of Ghana midfielder Michael Essien (and, really, if we can't
"Frimpong is a hot-head and likely has a pumpkin-sized ego to go with it as evidenced with his documented brushes with the law on the pitch as well as off it."
Those factors, when blended, make him a unique player who could be forgiven for his limited ball-playing skills. Being so young and having a long desire of playing for Ghana, Frimpong would carry with him a hunger that would fit so perfectly with the young team the country is building and would certainly have a role to play - if all goes well - in fulfilling the long term ambitions of the Black Stars. He could even be called to help out with the Olympic team, the Black Meteors, whenever convenient.
Again, to his credit, the current on-loan Arsenal player at Charlton Athletic has a surprisingly impressive wealth of experience for someone his age. Young though he is, he boasts of over 30 official games of football under his belt, including a few European outings, and it could prove invaluable if he is to be a success with the four-time African champions. Clearly, the youngster, currently farmed out temporarily to respectable championship side Charlton, has plenty to offer the Black Stars.
Now we have seen the pros, though, it would only serve the purposes of objectivity well, at least, if we take a cursory look at cons too. Actually, there are relatively few compared to his merits. Frimpong is a hot-head and likely has a pumpkin-sized ego to go with it as evidenced with his documented brushes with the law on the pitch as well as off it, with a couple of needless tackles and careless tweets -both of which he has gained some notoriety already.
Hopefully, he would change as he gains more experience in the beautiful game. Also, Frimpong has proved somewhat an injury-prone player, having already suffered two serious injuries keeping him out for a combined spell of some 18 months, which has partly reduced the rate at which he really ought to develop, considering his potential.
Concerned Ghanaians would be hoping those unpleasant incidents would not occur too often once his time with the Stars commences, and that he would be more available than otherwise when the big games come up. Another perceived flaw is his reputation as an entertainer, and the fear is that the fanfare that surrounds his private and public life could present an unnecessary distraction to his progress.
|He is a typical tough tackling, feisty, bloody-minded midfielder, unafraid to go into challenges and bursting with pace and energy,
- Nana Yaw Frimpong
On a lighter note, he might just find a fellow fun-loving soul-mate with similar interests in Ghana’s captain Asamoah Gyan.
Basically, that is what Frimpong, the latest high-profile Black Stars recruit is about - the good and the bad that should be known about him at this time. That which is yet unknown would be revealed if his career with the 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists ensues. Hopefully, Ghanaians would find more reason to be in love with him than be peeved.
May he prove worth the trouble and the hype. Until then, we cross our fingers and wait for that soon-to-arrive debut.