Twenty years after signing for city rivals, Hearts of Oak from Great Olympics, Charles Asampong Taylor, has revealed that former Sports Minister, E.T. Mensah masterminded that move after he had initially agreed with a move to join Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
“My manager told me that the Sports Minister was in charge of all football operations in Ghana and had warned that if I refused to sign for Hearts, I would never have an opportunity to play for any of the national teams in my life.
"That influenced me to play for Hearts instead of Kotoko in 2000,” Taylor revealed during an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports Online.
Taylor, aka ‘The Terror’, who eventually signed for Kotoko in 2003 in a move described by some football fans as controversial, said three days before signing for Hearts, he, together with his then Manager, Jonathan Laryea, had met Mr Herbert Mensah, a former Kotoko Executive Chairman and negotiated with Harry Zakkour, then a top official of Olympics to enable him to play for Kotoko on a Monday morning.
“I joined Hearts in 2000 but initially, I had accepted to play for Kumasi Asante Kotoko when Mr Mensah was in charge. He had by then invited me to his office at Osu and convinced me to play for Kotoko.
“Before then, Olympics, which signed me in 1999, had played a match against Dwarfs in Accra which had Mr Mensah in attendance. He told me he was impressed with my performance, so after the match, he made me a target.
“After the initial verbal agreement at his office in Osu, Mr Mensah said he had to return to Kumasi to bring a contract document for me to sign. I then returned to camp with the Black Starlets at Winneba, so on my way, I was sure that I was going to play for Kotoko,” Taylor explained.
He said while relaxing in camp three days later after an afternoon training session, he saw a car approached with some dignitaries on board.
“They were about six in number, including my manager, Mr Laryea, who called me to join them and introduced one of them as the Sports Minister, Mr E.T. Mensah.
"They spoke in Ga which I didn’t understand but later my manager told me the minister wanted me to play for Hearts instead of Kotoko.”
“He said it was a great opportunity to play for a glamorous club like Hearts so I should grab it with both hands.
“He again said that initially he wanted me to play for Hearts when I arrived in Accra but when I asked him about the agreement with Kotoko, he said there had not been any contract to that effect. Beside that, no money had changed hands so I should ignore it,” Taylor, who hung his boots five years ago and is now an ordained pastor, recalled.
When questioned about his preference of the two teams if he had the choice, Taylor noted, “Sincerely, I never dreamt of playing for either side so I was eager to play for any of them at a particular point in time to develop my career.
“When Kotoko expressed interest in me, I was so happy that on my way to camp at Winneba, I whistled to myself and imagined myself in a Kotoko jersey for the first time.
“When Hearts also came along, I was very happy because playing for either of them was an honour. However, I had been a fan of Kotoko from infancy,” Taylor added