Up close and personal with Amidaus Professionals’ Yahaya Mohammed – Part 1

Goal.com Ghana’s Fiifi Anaman reflects on the words of Ghana’s Taribo West, who is the local player of the moment with his all round prowess
Yahaya Mohamed, the most-talked about player in the local top flight in recent weeks, thinks his love for asking questions has often been misconstrued to mean arrogance and stubbornness.

“People say I’m undisciplined, that I’m disrespectful. I’m very respectful,” the midfielder cum striker, who was recently given a surprise (well, form-wise, not so surprising) call-up into the 26-man provisional Black Stars squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations told Adam Adjei of Asempa FM Sports in Accra.

“I’m just somebody who loves asking questions. For example, in a team situation when we’re talked to, you’ll feel you’ve convinced all of us but maybe I might not understand you, so I have to ask, not go back to my room and complain. No, I’m not like that. If something baffles my mind, I’ll ask.”

The player, affectionately known as Taribo West, explains how he got that name: “When I started playing football at Ambassadors (a colts football team), I was a central defender. I used to play hard tackling football and the supporters thought my style of play was identical to that of Nigerian legend Taribo West so they tagged me with his name.”

The dreadlocked player is one of the most versatile players in the Ghana Premier League, having played in
"Nobody sacked me from Kotoko, it was a suspension for the players to realise what happened to me could happen to anyone at anytime."
every position in defense at the beginning of his career, in defensive midfield through his time in France and at Kotoko and Real Tamale United, and in attack at Amidaus Professionals, where he is currently on loan. He even recalls playing in goal before – “I remember once, in a game, our goal keeper got injured, and couldn’t carry on with the game, so I stepped in for him in goal.”

Despite the public notion that he is too serious and all about work, he begs to differ. “I’m someone who really loves being jovial, so if you aren’t jovial, you basically won’t click with me. Even in camp, aside the seriousness, we crack jokes and laugh when we’re free. But on the pitch, it’s a different thing all together.”

The 24-year-old’s footballing journey began with some priceless help along the way. “When I was at Ambassadors, I was promoted from Under-14 to U17 when I was still supposed to be U14 player. (Wilfred Osei) Parma once saw me play and was wowed by my talent, and asked about me. He led me to my mum and more or less adopted me and took me as his son,” Mohammed revealed.

Many Ghanaian football fans are unaware of the following fact. “Parma used me to form a team, called Tema Youth. So I became the first player of Tema Youth, and I recruited players for the club because Parma had been out of the country for a while and didn’t quite know the system. I can say I co-founded Tema Youth with Parma.”

I used to play hard tackling football and the supporters thought my style of play was identical to that of Nigerian legend Taribo West so they tagged me with his name

- Yahaya Mohammed
At Asante Kotoko, Mohamed was a consistent cause célèbre within the media primarily because of his constant rifts with management. Did he often talk to vibrant Kotoko CEO Dr KK Sarpong more often? “Yes I did. The Dr and I had conversations. I even asked him a question once that landed me in trouble,” he said. “It was a financial problem. When I signed for Kotoko, the money due me was promised in yearly installments for three years. I collected two years’ worth of that money even though I had as at then played only one year. But then, I became a little financially troubled along the line and asked for part of the money due for the third year, and I was given time to wait for it. That waiting time incidentally coincided with the time Hearts [of Oak] sent a letter asking to purchase me. So the management thought I was more or less blackmailing them into giving me the money else I’d sign for Hearts. That is how it played out.”

“I realised during the time I was asking for my money that, I was wrong. I even admitted it and apologised, even at radio stations. Whether I was forgiven or not, I have no idea,” the current leading goal scorer in the domestic top flight said.

For people who have established a view that he left Kotoko based on performance, he says “I did not leave based on that. It was a problem. Nobody sacked me from Kotoko, it was a suspension for the players to realise what happened to me could happen to anyone at anytime.” So, was he being loaned out from a league champion to a newly-promoted side as a punishment? “Well, yeah,” he believes. “They could have put me on transfer though and I would have struggled to get a deal, but due to their love for me I was loaned out to show me that in moving on, I can’t keep on displaying such behavior.”

An all round player on the field | "If something baffles my mind, I’ll ask," Mohammed.

“It’s a one year loan. I have a year left on my contract at Kotoko that I have to go and serve. If an offer comes through, there are leaders at Kotoko who will review it and see if it’s good for me and push me on. When my loan ends, and there is no offer, I’ll return to Kotoko to see out my final year.”

His current spell at Amidaus has seen him enjoy immense spotlight like he has never enjoyed before. “I can confidently say Amidaus has been one of the experiences that have really helped me since birth. Yes, Parma did a lot for me, but I’ll still say Amidaus has helped me. Besides, I’m a Tema boy, and most of the Amidaus management are friends of mine, so it’s like a family thing. In fact, I would love to add the name ‘Amidaus’ to my name one day.”

Is that why he more or less ‘kills’ himself for the team? “No. I’m naturally very committed. I give my all.”