Kwabena Appiah’s journey from the streets of Western Sydney to the stadiums of South Korea

The speedy winger is currently impressing for K-League side Incheon United

South Korea is a long way from home for Kwabena Appiah, who, as the RBB song goes, is from the streets of Western Sydney. 

As one of Western Sydney Wanderers first signings in 2012, the now 26-year-old would make history with his hometown club as they defied the odds to win the Asian Champions League in 2014.

It was an experience Appiah will never forget and it was one that also gave him a tantalising taste of things to come.

“After the Champions League run with the Wanderers I said either Japan or Korea would be an ideal destination if I was to play overseas in Asia,” Appiah told Goal.

“So I’m pretty happy that it’s actually come true.

“Playing against teams like FC Seoul, Ulsan and Kawasaki Frontale in the Champions League you could see the level of quality was really high. It’s good to be playing in one of the benchmark competitions in the AFC.”

Al Hilal 0-0 western Sydney Wanderers AFC Champions League final second leg 21114

While his route back to Asia would take a detour via stints with Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners, the winger’s hard work would ultimately pay off at the start of 2018.

Rewind exactly a year however, and the attacker would arguably set in motion his future move by finally bagging his first A-League goal playing for the Mariners against Adelaide United.

“It was the biggest monkey off my back, I can’t even explain the feeling,” he said.

“It was something that was kind of haunting me for years.

“I was second guessing myself in dangerous positions, and this, looking back, was the problem.

“It took me a while to understand that I needed to back myself and to visualise the ball hitting the back of the net."

That goal was followed by another not long after as Appiah finally began reaping the rewards of his high work rate and never-ending runs forward.

Kwabena Appiah

While finding the back of the net was sweet, a transfer to South Korean club Incheon United earlier this year was even sweeter.

Though taking some by surprise, the move from a personal perspective felt well deserved for Appiah.

“Although the goals took what seemed like an eternity to come, I never doubted how hard I had worked and how far I had come," he said.

Going from the middle of an A-League season to an intense K-League pre-season, the transition to South Korea offered a stern test for Appiah.

“The first few week were a bit difficult because I came straight from the A-League into pre-season camp, which was about five hours away from Incheon,” he said.

“It was a bit difficult, had to quickly settle in but after the first few weeks the boys made it pretty easy for me to adjust to life. And ever since it’s been fantastic.”

After taking six seasons to score his first A-League goal, Appiah has taken just one to find the back of the net in the K-League.

The 26-year-old capping off a memorable return from injury to score against a fellow Australian.

“I was out for seven weeks with an injury, my first game back in the league and it was against Pohang," he said.

"Connor (Chapman) was pumping me up before the game saying 'you won’t score tonight'. I ended up coming off the bench and scoring in the 89th minute.

“It was a good feeling."

Having picked up a further two assists, Appiah has settled quickly in a league that has pushed him.

“It’s very physical,” he said.

“Tactically as well it’s a massive load compared to Australia...Korea’s a different ball game.”

While now thousands of kilometres away from Western Sydney and with the Wanderers ACL triumph now approaching its four-year anniversary, Appiah remains firmly connected to the region and an achievement that’s inevitably lead him back to Asia.

“I’m very proud. Western Sydney is my hometown, I’m a Parramatta boy,” he said.

“It was an incredible achievement to do something for my adopted hometown.

“Looking at the club now it’s one of the biggest. As soon as I came here everyone was talking about it.”