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The tragedy of

Joseph Opio/Twenty Ten

The tragedy of Nii Lamptey…and his quest for redemption

Date: 2009/09/07

Article Synopsis: Lamptey was once Ghana’s most precocious gift. But his star flared all too briefly before being extinguished by a cocktail of dodgy agents, a numbing lack of education and treasonable neglect from the game’s overseers.

Text: Greater Accra, Ghana: Cocoa is Ghana's leading export. But, lately, cocoa's visibility as the country’s main foreign exchange earner is, at least symbolically, running into a challenge from Ghana’s talent at football.

Football has established Ghana as a hotbed of talent. And seduced, hawk-eyed scouts scour this terrain of 22 million, desperate to unearth the next big thing…or for the most optimistic, the next Nii Lamptey.

If the name rings no bell, dear reader, blush not! Lamptey was once Ghana’s most precocious gift. But his star flared all too briefly before being extinguished by a cocktail of dodgy agents, a numbing lack of education and treasonable neglect from the game’s overseers.

Ghana’s first genuine wonder kid burst into prominence at the 1991 World Youth Cup where his golden potential made other whiz kids like Argentina’s Juan Sebastian Verón and Italy's Alessandro del Piero look like base metal.

So dazzling was the Black Starlet that Pele remarked that “Lamptey is my natural successor.” The Brazilian legend had just watched Lamptey pick up the FIFA U-17 World Cup and the Golden Ball for good measure. Lamptey, midfield sorcery notwithstanding, had managed to top-score with four goals as well.

“When Pele said I could go on to become like him, it...

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