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'Now all of them love me' - Boateng revels in return to Ghana fold

'Now all of them love me' - Boateng revels in return to Ghana fold

The Schalke midfielder says he has made peace with the "critical" Ghanaian press and plans to build a school in his father’s hometown of Kumasi to "get closer to the people"

Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng believes that he has mended the strained relationship between him and Ghana following his controversial international retirement in 2011.

Boateng was an instant hero in Ghana following his exploits in the 2020 World Cup - including a goal against USA - but the nation felt a sense of betrayal when he failed to turn up for subsequent international games on perceived health grounds before bowing out of the team three years ago.

The Germany-born player reversed his decision to retire in 2013 just in time for another World Cup and, with a goal in his comeback game against Egypt in the playoff to reach Brazil, he believes he has won back the hearts of the country.

"It was critically spoken of," the 27-year-old told Goal of his retirement. "The press in Ghana is even worse than in Germany. They are very critical but after my goal in Egypt I was hailed, and now all of them love me. Now the World Cup is here, they know they need me and that's why we are an amorous couple again."

Touching on his return to the Black Stars set-up, he said: "I was received very well. I made a lot of calls with Asamoah Gyan, our skipper, our coach, our president. They all said they waited for my return. They were all glad and happy that I am back again."

The former AC Milan midfielder also spoke about his plans to build a school in Kumasi - Ghana's second-largest city and his father's home town - in order to strengthen the bond with the local support.

"I have my family there, from my father's side. I am on the phone with my uncle regularly. I want to build a school in the area where my father has been born in Kumasi. I am doing that all alone with my fiancee. I am trying to get closer [to the people]," he explained.

"People are happy in Ghana. That's what always astonishes me, there are a lot of people that don't have much but are happy nevertheless. It's just nice to see how the people are dancing on the streets, how they celebrate. They are just always happy.

"If you walk around in Germany you see people with their heads down, though they are so rich, not only in terms of money but in terms of everything. And then you see the people in Ghana and see that they are happy."

The Ghana international is part of the provisional 26-man squad named by coach Kwesi Appiah for the World Cup this summer.