Accra Hearts of Oak and Black Stars legend, Mohammed ‘Polo’ Ahmed, has sensationally omitted three of Ghana’s most celebrated football stars from his all-time XI team, replacing them with legends of his era.
In an exclusive interview with the Graphic Sports ahead of the launch of his biography in the next few months, the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations winner and 1974 SWAG Footballer of the Year named his first team without the most decorated Ghanaian star, Abedi Ayew Pele, two-time Bundesliga goal-king, Anthony Yeboah, former world best juvenile player, Nii Odartey Lamptey, and Samuel Osei Kuffour who won laurels with Ghana at age-group competitions and with German giants, Bayern Munich.
Three decades after hanging up his boots, the man nicknamed Dribbling Magician’ for his bag of tricks on the ball did not consider even Abedi, whom many consider the most celebrated Ghanaian player of all-time, worthy of a place in his starting team. Instead, Abedi -- one of only five Africans named among the 125 greatest players in the FIFA 100 list to commemorate the world football body’s centenary celebrations -- is in Polo’s reserve team as captured in his yet-to-be-released biography: “Polo --
The Magnificent -- Story of the Dribbling Magician”.
Authored by Nii Odai Anidaso Laryea, the book is expected be officially launched in Accra in the coming weeks. The football icon explained in the book that even though Ghana had produced many great players over the decades, he picked players such as himself, Robert Mensah, Dan Oppong, Akuetteh Armah (99 Styles), Seth Ampadu, Addo Odametey, Osei Kofi, Ibrahim Sunday, Abdul-Karim Razak and Dan Owusu as his all-time first team.
The reserve team comprise Ghana and Asante Kotoko goalkeeping legend Joe Carr, Haruna Yusif, Oliver Acquah, John Eshun, James Kuuku Dadzie, Adolf Armah, Abedi, Wilberforce Mfum, Edward Acquah and Yeboah.
Justifying his choices, the 65-year-old Polo explained to the Graphic Sports that it was difficult settling on his first team and reserves because Ghana had produced many great talents over the decades.
“The difficulty in naming Ghana’s all time best is that players excelled at different points in our football history. The list is endless, and this indicates that Ghana abounds in soccer talent,” he explained to the Graphic Sports.
For the goalkeeping department, Polo chose the late Ghana and Kotoko legend, Robert Mensah, with Ghana and Kotoko defender Dan Oppong, for the right full-back position, Armah (99 styles) for the left full-back position, Seth Ampadu (right-back) and Addo Odametey (centre-back).
For the wingers, Osei Kofi (right wing) and Polo (left wing) were chosen with the midfield comprising former Kotoko and Black Stars legends Ibrahim Sunday and Abdul Karim Razak, with former Bofoakwa goal machine, Dan Owusu, as the arrow-head striker.
Polo said he was of the view that goalkeepers such as John Naawu, Addoquaye Laryea, John Baker, John Botchway, Edward Ansah,Salifu Ansah, Owusu Mensah, Dodoo Ankrah, Sannie Abdulai, and Abukari Damba made big impacts to market Ghana at the international level, defenders such Frank Amankwah, Kwasi Appiah, Seth Ampadu, Anthony Dwemoh, Sampson Lamptey, Justice Moore, Dogo Moro, Michael Lomo, John Mensah, PSK Paha, Isaac Paha and Tetteh Gorleku also playing useful roles in their time.
Othger greats who received mention included midfielders Kofi Pare, John Nketiah Yawson, Joe Ghartey, Tetteh Chandu and Sulley Ali Muntari.
He did not leave out forwards Emmanuel Osei Kuffour, George Alhassan, Opoku Afriyie, Agyemang Prempeh, Kofi Badu, Frank Odoi, Joe Sam, Windsor Kofi Abbrey, Emmanuel Quashie and Joe Sam for making impacts in Ghana football at club and national levels.