Decades after hanging up his boots, former Asante Kotoko captain, Stephen Frimpong Manso, has revealed how he received monthly allowances and was showered with gifts by officials of Kotoko even though he was plying his trade for their city rivals, Cornerstones FC, in the early 1980s.
He said that unusual arrangement notwithstanding, his loyalty to the Kumasi-based Cornerstones (Corners) was never compromised and that he performed very well in all matches against Kotoko until he switched camp in 1987 after captaining Corners to win the WAFU Cup in 1987.
A respected defender in his heyday, Manso featured for Corners between 1980 and 1987, but said his romance with Kotoko dated back to his days in the camp of the senior national team when he was courted by some supporters and officials of Kotoko.
“While in the Black Stars camp, some supporters and officials of Kotoko visited their players and showered them money and with gifts. Even though I was not a Kotoko player, I benefited tremendously from such gifts. It got to a point that even as a player with Corners, I was on the payroll of Kotoko and received money on a monthly basis,” Manso disclosed to Graphic Sports Online in an interview.
In response to the rationale behind such strange generosity from a rival club, if it were not meant to influence him to play it soft in clashes between them, the former defender said, “they might have been doing so because they had in mind that I would play for them in the future”
He insisted that accepting money and gifts from Kotoko never compromised his loyalty to Corners, adding that he demonstrated his professionalism and incorruptibility by giving his best to prove that he could not be compromised as a player.
“I remained committed to Corners in all matches against Kotoko and other clubs because I was a professional player, so receiving money regularly from Kotoko never induced me to play it soft,” emphasised the 61-year-old Manso, who is now the head coach of Division One side, Nkoranza Warriors.
The former Ghana centre-back led Kotoko to win the sub-regional WAFU Cup in 1987 after which he switched camp to Kotoko for bigger opportunities.
“I played Corners for the love of it, and I was not earning any meaningful salary, so I felt I it was time to benefit from my exploits. At the back of my mind, I knew I had to excel to attract an offer from some of the big clubs. That explains why I moved.”
“Together with my teammate Emmanuel Ampiah, we joined Kotoko primarily because of the professional way the club’s management treated their players.”