Former Ghana international Laryea Kingston reveals playing against Barcelona in a pre-season fixture ranks among his biggest achievements but reckons he could have gone a step further to wear the jersey of the five-time European champions.
The erstwhile winger ranks among Ghana’s most celebrated icons, owing to his exploits with the Black Stars, especially in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup and at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on home soil.
From lining up for local sides Great Olympics and Hearts of Oak to wearing the jersey of Russian giants Lokomotiv Moscow, Scottish side Heart of Midlothian and Dutch fold Vitesse Arnhem, the Ghanaian stated he missed out on one piece of his club puzzle.
“When I was playing in Europe, a lot of people said my style fitted Barcelona,” Laryea, currently a youth coach at Danish side Nordsjaelland told Goal.
“If I look back, I think I granted some interviews and said if I had the chance to play for Barcelona, that would be great because I wanted to play in one of the best leagues in the world and against the best players in the world.
“I managed to play against Barcelona in a pre-season game when I was playing with Heart of Midlothian in Scotland and it was a big achievement for me.
“One of my aims was to play in the Uefa Champions League. I managed to play in the Europa League with Lokomotiv Moscow against Sevilla but we all know the Champions League is bigger than the Europa League and every footballer’s ambition is to play at the highest level or compete with the best players in the world or be part of the best players in the world.
“I did my part and I am really happy with whatever achievement I had in my career.”
Interestingly, the former Krylia Sovetov and Terek Grozny man refused to single out any moment as the highest of his career.
“For me, everything [I achieved] was a high moment because every step up was an achievement. Starting from my youth days at colts level [in Ghana] when I was voted the Player of the Tournament at the Milo Games,” the 39-year-old said.
“I had a call-up to the first national U15 team and when I got there, I was one of the key players. For me, every step in my career was very huge for me.
“Just like I say every game and every goal was very important for me because it may have helped the team to win or put a smile on the faces of the fans. Generally, I would say I fulfilled my dreams as a footballer.
“Every team that I played in, I was always one of the fans’ favourite.”
The younger brother of former Ghana and Birmingham City goalkeeper Richard Kingson, Laryea threw more light on his early days as a footballer.
“I was born into a football family, my dad played for Great Olympics, Hearts of Oak and the Ghana national team,” said ‘Bro. Laryea’.
“My aim was to become a professional footballer and the focus was on how to develop my skills. I put in 110 per cent in everything I did and I really achieved whatever I wanted to achieve in football apart from [mainly] not being able to play at the World Cup.
“My aim was also to play in the Ghana Premier League and from playing colts football, I jumped to the lower divisions and moved straight to the Premier League where I joined Great Olympics and moved to Hearts of Oak.
“My other ambition was to play for the senior national team. Even at the national level, I played for the U15, U17, U20, the Olympic Team and the senior team. I fulfilled my dream in playing in some European countries as well. I’m really happy by whatever I achieved in football.”
So how does Laryea sum up his career personality?
“I would describe myself as a contributor, someone that gives everything on the pitch and inspired up-and-coming players,” he remarked.
The midfielder, who also represented Ghana at Afcon 2006, played for Israeli clubs Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Be'er Sheva.