Boateng had to overcome 'crazy' ways to join Messi & Arthur phenoms at Barcelona
Kevin-Prince Boateng admits he had to curb his “crazy” ways in order to recover from a troubled start to his career and carve out a path which has led him to Barcelona.
While still in his teens, the versatile forward burst onto the scene at Hertha Berlin and earned himself a move to Tottenham.
Difficulties were endured in English football, with a clearly talented performer struggling for form and fitness in north London.
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Boateng quickly acknowledged that he needed to become more professional in order to fulfil his potential and has since gone on to take in spells at Milan and Schalke before ending up at Camp Nou.
The 31-year-old former Ghana international, who was a shock addition for Barca during the January transfer window, told La Vanguardia of his early experiences: “It's normal, when I was young I was crazy. At 18 years old in my neighbourhood I was the boss because I had money.
“Then I had a child and you see that if you do not mature you cannot reach teams like Milan or Barca. They do not choose you. You can play very hard but if the head does not work you cannot play on those teams. That's why I changed my attitude and my character.”
Boateng concedes that he let himself down at Spurs, with his weight ballooning to 95 kilograms.
He added: “Now I weigh 83 kilos. That was down to the party. At Tottenham I did not play and I was always with the fans in the stands. In London I was 20 years old. And you go partying, you're with friends and you eat badly.
“Now I have my cook and I am aware that eating well and being healthy lengthens the race. When you're young you think that every month the money is going to be there. If you do not play you do not care because you have money and friends tell you that you are a phenomenon.”
Boateng, who has previously played alongside Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldinho, now finds himself working with more world-class talent in Catalunya.
Among those is Lionel Messi, with Boateng saying of the mercurial Argentine: “He is incredible. I tell you honestly, playing against him is very hard, but seeing him now on the field is magical. I see him like Ronaldinho. He can win matches by himself. I could play in a team where the other 10 defended and he could do it all.”
While Messi remains the main man for Barca, there is plenty of exciting potential alongside him.
Brazil international midfielder Arthur and World Cup-winning winger Ousmane Dembele fit into that category.
“For me, Arthur is a phenomenon,” said Boateng.
“He never loses a ball, he plays very clean, he does not miss a pass, he's incredible.
“Dembele is known around the world because he can change matches. He is very quick and has technique, something that is rare. That's why he’s so strong and decisive.”