Only the myopic would argue that outstanding young striker Dominic Adiyiah was an undeserving choice as player of the tournament at the Under-20 World Cup.
The top scorer at Egypt 2009 with eight goals – half his team’s tally – Adiyiah was the match winner his side could always depend on; a pacy, powerful and composed finisher who propelled the Black Satellites into title-winning orbit.
Slightly disappointing at this year’s African Youth Championship in Rwanda – where he was used principally as an attacking sidekick – Adiyiah was switched by coach Sellas Tetteh to the role of central spearhead for the Egyptian main event…and it worked a treat.
“It did not surprise me to see Dominic in such good form,” declared former Ghana boss Claude Le Roy. “Ghanaian football is one of the deepest reservoirs of talent in Africa, perhaps the world, but from a tender age, it was apparent he had something extra, a special ingredient to set him apart from the rest.
“I saw him play a few years ago for the Feyenoord academy side and then with Heart of Lions. He was sensational and I didn’t think twice about picking him last year for a national team training camp.
“Adiyiah is much more than a natural finisher with head or either foot. He can play with his back to goal, he’s unselfish, mobile and most important of all, he has a great attitude. He’s fearless and ambitious. He demonstrated his mental strength with the confident way he took his penalty in the shoot-out in the Final.
“I don’t think he will be distracted by all the compliments he’s receiving. He is very single-minded. He can see the goals he wants to achieve in the distance and will keep going until he reaches them.”
Easier said than done. He may have shone brightly in Egypt and have a number of prestigious European clubs heading for his door bearing gifts, but a most-valuable-player trophy at a youth competition is absolutely no guarantee of long-term top billing.
For every Under-20 star who goes on to greatness – Diego Maradona, Robert Prosinecki and Lionel Messi – there’s an Emilio Peixe (Portugal, 1991), Caico (Brazil, 1995) and Nicolas Olivera (Uruguay, 1997) who took the road to nowhere.
Certain pundits believe it is a foregone conclusion Adiyiah will be included in the full Ghana squad for next year’s World Cup. However, gifted as he is, nothing could be further from the truth. Black Stars boss Milovan Rajevac is anxious to try Adiyiah out but with Asamoah Gyan, Matthew Amoah, Derek Boateng and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie ahead of him in the front-line hierarchy, he may have to wait a while.
Currently employed by Norwegian side Fredrikstad, who he joined from the Heart of Lions club in Kpandu last year for a paltry £100,000, Adiyiah’s next task will be to prove himself in the European mainstream, with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani claiming: “We have an agreement with Fredrikstad. Now the player needs a work permit to enter Italy and we will deposit the contract on January 1. He will have to pass a medical and then he will be a Milan player.”
It all began for Adiyiah in the Ghanaian coastal resort of Gomoa Fetteh, where Dutch club Feyenoord set up a soccer school academy/satellite club back in 1999. Accra-born Adiyiah took up residence there at the age of 10 and was snapped up by top-flight Heart of Lions, scoring 11 goals in the 2006-07 campaign and winning the league’s player of the season award. Within weeks he was off to Scandinavia, bought by Fredrikstad.
A decade since they founded their African offshoot, Feyenoord fans are distinctly unhappy that next to no Ghanaian brilliance has come their way.
In Dominic Adiyiah, the Rotterdammers look to have missed out yet again.