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African All Stars

Meet Baba Sule, ex-Ghana youth star & David De Gea’s former driver

18:43 EAT 15/06/2021
AFHQ De Gea
The Fuenlabrada utility man has enjoyed a remarkable journey in the sport

On African Football HQ this week, we meet Baba Sule, a former player who has truly experienced the highs and the lows of the sport, to hear his remarkable story.

While the ex-midfielder’s playing career is a story of heartbreak and anguish, since retirement, he has enjoyed a new lease of life as a former driver to Spain goalkeeper David De Gea.

The 42-year-old was a youth sensational in the mid-90s when he won the 1995 U-17 World Cup with Ghana, defeating a Brazil team containing Juan and Julio Cesar 3-2 in a memorable final.

Baba Sule capped off an impressive campaign—that ended with Ghana’s second title—by opening the scoring in that final, beating Cesar—who would go on to win 87 caps for Brazil’s senior side—in the 39th minute.

His performances in Ecuador took him to Spain, where he signed for Real Mallorca from Cornerstones in 1996, although it’s here that his career took an unfortunate twist.

Baba Sule’s time at Mallorca was beset by illness—he was diagnosed with hepatitis—and endured long spells on the sidelines as he made his recovery.

While his returning fitness allowed him to progress to Ghana’s U-20 side in 1997, his club career never truly took off.

He returned to consistent action with Spanish lower league side Ourense, but then embarked on an eight-year odyssey across a swathe of Spanish minnows before returning to African football in 2008.

He ended his career with three years in the NPFL—with Kwara United and Niger Tornadoes—but returned to Spain after retirement, having acquired a Spanish passport during his playing career.

Since returning to Europe, the veteran player has enjoyed a second career, finding work as an electrician before receiving an intriguing proposition to become the driver for De Gea—then a stalwart with Atletico Madrid.

“After hanging up my boots, I had the same manager as De Gea, and one day he called me and asked me if I was interested in working with De Gea who was then playing for the second team of Atletico Madrid,” Sule told AFHQ.

“He asked me if I was interested in being his driver – because De Gea was then 17 –and as he was living near me, and I wasn’t doing anything, I decided to take that opportunity.”

Sule discussed how he shared some precious moments with the goalkeeping wonderkid, although he denied the suggestion that his English lessons have left the Manchester United keeper with a Ghanaian accent!