José Mourinho is showing his loving side these days. He digs deep into his pocket for one of his strikers and pays Felix Afena-Gyan for super-expensive shoes. Who is the young Ghanaian? And why does the often grumpy trainer rave about him?
Footballers and expensive fashion, two issues that seem inextricably linked. Leroy Sané sometimes wears a white teddy plush jacket at a DFB training course, and after Joachim Löw has officially taken off, there is more talk of Mats Hummel’s green and white checked coat. The desire is just as great for shoes, we’re not talking about stylish soccer shoes.
And not only seasoned professionals are infected with the fashion fever, the youngsters are also very keen on the latest trends. Felix Afena-Gyan shows that. The Ghanaian is just 18 years old and currently happier than ever. Because of a pair of shoes. And because of José Mourinho, who gave it to him. Not entirely voluntarily, but with all my heart. The sock slippers from Balenciaga, which make Afena-Gyan so happy, cost more than 800 euros. But he also achieved great things in return. He managed to spoil Andrjy Shevchenko’s comeback in Italy.
The Ukrainian, who excelled as a player at AC Milan, is a national hero and most recently coached the Ukrainian national team, is back in the country. The now 45-year-old now coaches Genoa FC and has been in office since November 7th. Due to the international break for the World Cup qualification, the first game for him was only 14 days later. On Sunday it was time to debut against AS Roma. The relegation candidate receives the table fifth, a difficult start. Until the 82nd minute it was a successful debut for Shevchenko, his team didn’t score a goal, but didn’t concede one either. 0-0, that would be something for the debut. But then Afena-Gyan’s big minutes come.
The 18-year-old comes on from Mourinho in the 74th minute, making it his third brief appearance for the Romans. After his 20 minutes on the pitch, the score is 2-0 – the Ghanaian scores in the 82nd and 94th minutes. The center forward decides the game, he catapults himself from nobody to celebrated youngster.
Abandoned the national team
So who is this young striker who became the first of his 2003 class to score a Serie A goal? A great talent until the beginning of this year. Afena-Gyan kicked for the EurAfrica FC project. The Roman scouting team discovered him there and guided him to Rome at the end of January, where he was actually intended for the U19s. But Mourinho is so enthusiastic about the storm jewel that he included Afena-Gyan in the senior team, his first appearance on October 27 against Cagliari. And it will continue like this: “I’m sorry for De Rossi (Alberto, U19 coach, editor’s note) and the Primavera team, but Felix will stay with us. “You will miss him there, after all, he scored six goals in five games for the youth team.
The teenager should have been particularly pleased that he came from Ghana to Italy, of all places, and especially to Rome. He fell in love with AS Roma, according to the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, when the team caused the Champions League sensation against FC Barcelona in 2018. Rome lost 4-1 in the quarter-final first leg, but then made it to the semi-finals thanks to a 3-0 second leg. When he scored his first goals against Genoa, he demonstrated his infatuation with a kiss on the coat of arms on his shirt.
His skills were also noticed in his home country, with Ghana’s national coach Milovan Rajevac nominating him for the World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia and South Africa. But for the time being, Afena-Gyan rejected the “Black Stars”. “I had the feeling that it was too early for me because I had to develop physically, mentally and psychologically,” he explained to the Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio. He hopes that despite his cancellation he will be able to play for Ghana at some point: “I have a lot of respect for my national team and I hope I’ll be part of it in the future. The coach asked me and I told him I wasn’t ready yet I felt it was premature to take such a step. ” He also wanted to stay in Rome and train with Mourinho in order to develop further.
Mourinho’s dear promise
He should have made his coach pretty happy with this decision. Mourinho raved about his new talent after his brace against Genoa: “What impressed me the most was his coolness in front of goal. Even if he’s not technically fantastic, he has a strong mentality. You meet all these kids today, they think they already know everything, but he’s humble and you can see him sucking up all sorts of information around him. ” And the crush also exists the other way around, Afena-Gyan is enthusiastic about his coach: “Mourinho is a great personality, a great coach. He gives you the motivation to learn every day. I’m glad he’s here.”
He said of his goals: “Today my dream came true. I want to confirm my performance, prove myself and do even more in the future.” Well, the awesome Balenciaga shoes should at least put some pressure on him.
Why does Mourinho give him this at all? The coach at DAZN explains: “I promised Felix to buy him these shoes that he really liked. They are quite expensive, they cost 800 euros. He ran up to me and shouted to me not to forget. The first thing I do in the morning is buy him his shoes. ” So Afena-Gyan didn’t just run up to his trainer to be overjoyed …
In an interview after the game he proved that it wasn’t just about his shoes: “I dedicate the goals to the club, the fans, everyone, my family and my mother. Mom, thank you so much for how far you have gone brought me. I really appreciate that. ”
And Mourinho? He kept his word. His young player posted a video on Instagram on Monday evening showing the handover of the coveted goods. With big eyes and a grin, Afena-Gyan opens the shoebox, then looks a little incredulously at the coach standing next to him and hugs him. Mourinho points out details of the shoes to him and the people around him, and finally the 18-year-old tries them on – and is forced to do a little dance, which he is visibly embarrassed about. But what do you not do for a coveted pair of shoes.