The rise and rise of Boakye-Yiadom

BY: Graphic Sports
Boakye-Yiadom in action for Ghana at the 2013 FIFA U-20 Championship.
Boakye-Yiadom in action for Ghana at the 2013 FIFA U-20 Championship.

At 24, Richmond Boakye-Yiadom is finally demonstrating that he can be one of the Black Stars' footballing superstars, and not the latest in the long line of unfulfilled Ghanaian talents.

The powerful frontman is scoring for fun at Red Star Belgrade, and has firmly emerged as the leading contender to be Asamoah Gyan's long-term successor with the national side.

Boakye-Yiadom scored twice — including an 85th-minute penalty equaliser — for Red Star last Saturday as they drew 2-2 at Backa Palanka, last Saturday and currently sits second in the Serbian scoring charts on 14 goals from 12 games.

He's also impressed in front of goal for Ghana, finding the net twice in the Black Stars' 5-1 World Cup qualifying victory away at Congo-Brazzaville.

Boakye-Yiadom has always been viewed as a star in the making in Ghanaian football given his goalscoring form at the eight clubs he has represented, but believes that it's moving away from Italian football to one of Serbia's giants that's ensured he returned to his lethal best.

Boakye Yiadom

Boakye Yiadom

"I have had too many inconsistent years and I realised that maybe consistently playing for teams struggling at the wrong end of the table and to stay in the leagues was not helping because the chances of scoring were a bit difficult", he told KweséESPN.

"My priority when I was leaving Latina was to find a team that attacks more and gives me a good chance of scoring goals," he added. "Red Star was perfect for that."

Boakye-Yiadom scored 21 league games in 66 Serie B games during his two spells with Sassuolo, but while Juventus were impressed enough to sign him permanently in 2012, he never made an official appearance for the Italian champions.

Since leaving Juve — initially on loan to Elche — Boakye-Yiadom had struggled to recreate this goalscoring form, but that all changed when he swapped Latina for Red Star.

Beyond the choice of teams, Boakye-Yiadom says he has had to also make some personal adjustments.

"I have grown up a lot the last years and there are certain things I did in the past I won't do again," he continued. "That comes with experience.

"I am also sleeping early and I have a more positive attitude in training. For me training has become like the game itself, because I realise that you can't have one attitude for training and another for match day. It doesn't work."

For all his talent, Boakye-Yiadom had been deemed as something of a difficult character especially at international level.

Boakye Yiadom
Boakye Yiadom

He was heavily mocked in Ghana for consistently playing table tennis and aggravating an injury in camp during the 2013 Nations Cup, before coach Sellas Tetteh benched him at the U-20 World Cup, claiming he was not respectful enough and didn't follow instructions.

After rediscovering his club form, however, he's been restored to the Black Stars squad by new coach, Kwasi Appiah.

The coach's faith was repaid by the double against Congo, and with Gyan now 32, Boakye is demonstrating the kind of form that suggests he could be an ideal replacement for Baby Jet.

"There are a lot of strikers in Ghana but if God says it is my time, no one can stop it," Boakye-Yiadom continued. "When the time comes, we will see.

"I always say I don't have pressure when I'm playing football, it is like in Ghana, but I don't shake, I don't panic.

"Players get bad days and players have good days," he continued. "When I get a bad day, I can't let what others think affects my reaction."