Hearing Ghana striker Richmond Boakye Yiadom identify the player he
considers an act worth emulating over the weekend was as depressing as
it was revealing.
“Since my childhood, I’ve always wanted to express myself to the level
of [Samuel] Eto’o,” he intimated to reporters.
And he couldn’t have picked a better role model, really. Indeed, few
budding African strikers could desire a better example to be patterned
on, yet even Boakye admits the quest would be an onerous one.
Vowing “to work 100 percent of [his] potential to reach that level,”
Boakye added: “I look in the mirror and wonder what Eto’o did to
become the player [he is and realize] that was not easy.”
For Boakye, though, it would be slightly harder than for others.
There’s very genuine reason to doubt that, at the sluggish rate of
23-year-old Boakye’s development, he’d ever attain Eto’o-esque
Like Boakye, Eto’o was brought to Europe while a teen. Signed by
mighty Real Madrid (Serie A side Genoa were Boakye’s destination,
remember), it wasn’t ever going to be easy for an unknown Cameroonian
to break into a strikeforce the calibre of which Madrid had at the
time and, ultimately, he failed to. A couple of loan spells later
(including one at Espanyol where he never even played), however, Eto’o found his bearings, thereafter starting on a path to greatness
he’d never veer off. That bolt of success struck him at Real Mallorca,
and Eto’o steadily rose to cult status in the Balearic Islands,
racking up a standing club record 54 league goals and a handful of
other strikes in cup competitions, including two that helped seal Copa
del Rey success in 2003, Los Bermellones’ first ever major piece of
For his country, Eto’o was just as huge: conquest in successive
editions of the Nations Cup, appearances at two Fifa World Cups and an
Olympic winners’ medal, topped with a double African Footballer of the
Year triumph — all by his 23rd year of life.
Boakye doesn’t have that much to his name. He might weigh some 5 kg
more than Eto’o and stands as many centimetres taller, but he’s
nowhere near as successful. His trajectory since taking to the
pristine pitches of Europe has been a roller-coaster with far more
troughs than peaks, a thoroughly tasteless blend of all sorts of
ingredients: outright purchases, joint ownserships, loan deals, et al.
Overall, he’s been through seven clubs across three countries (since
departing Ghana in 2008), notably in Italy and Spain where Eto’o also
played, albeit with significantly lesser success. For a man who’s
enjoyed time in a trio of top European leagues, it is telling that the
stats rather betray Boakye’s best experiences to have come in
lower-tier football, between 2011 and 2013 in Italy’s Serie B when he
featured for Sassuolo.
Thirty-six goals in 77 starts may be justifiably deemed a return not
to be sneezed at but, given that it only breaks down into a paltry
average of roughly five goals in each season of Boakye’s sojourn
abroad, it’s hardly flattering either. Boakye’s international career
hasn’t been any more distinguished. Since scoring on his debut for the
Black Stars against China in August 2012, he’s flitted in and out of
the national set-up, earning only nine more caps and adding a mere
three goals to his tally.
Yes, but only for want of a stronger word.
And Boakye’s latest career move, a half-season’s stay on loan at modest Lazio-based Serie B side U.S. Latina Calcio, from parent club
Atalanta — not too long after prematurely ending a year’s temporary
stint at Dutch Eredivisie outfit Roda JC Kerkrade for the petty reason
of “not [being] on good terms with the coach” — may just have the
potential to stunt his progress some more.
Though both clubs he’s presently qualified to represent in Italy —
the one that actually owns him, as well as that which he’s registered
to play for till the season’s end — have home kits and nicknames that
mirror those of the team Eto’o himself starred for while on the
boot-shaped peninsula some years ago, Boakye is no closer to matching
the exploits of his self-confessed idol than he was when he originally
Wish him well alright, but just don’t bet on him getting there.
By: Sammie Frimpong