Ghana’s top-flight has featured many foreigners over the decades, but an elite few have stood out
Players have always flocked from this land in quest of opportunities abroad, but the traffic is hardly one-way, with quite a few foreigners also starring in the Ghana Premier League and spicing our brand with an exotic vibe. Below, KickerGH profiles perhaps the most celebrated — if not necessarily the most successful — of the lot, in no particular order.
The Burkinabe first arrived in Ghana’s top-flight nearly a decade ago, joining record champions Asante Kotoko and going on to win four league titles during the seven years he spent mostly as the Porcupine Warriors first-choice goalkeeper. Soulama crossed carpet in 2014, moving to Kotoko’s archrivals Hearts of Oak where he has also established himself as a regular. And while there have been some depressingly low points, the lanky shot-stopper has generally impressed and is one of the best in the business.
Like Soulama, Wake kept goal in Ghana, though doing so to far greater acclaim. One of the stand-out stars as Goldfields (now Ashantigold) stormed to the 1997 Caf Champions League final, the Togolese won SWAG’s Footballer of the Year award — the only foreigner to do so thus far.
In just four years since moving into the Ghanaian capital from neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire, Gnagne has matured into one of the GPL’s more reliable centre-backs, even rising to become Hearts’ skipper. The defender wouldn’t be around forever, of course, but, while he’s around, Gnagne certainly looks like building a decent legacy.
Toure may probably be the most influential expatriate in Ghanaian football history. While Gnagne has excelled in defence, Toure has been consistently brilliant at the other end of the pitch, scoring for fun for Kotoko across a number of spells. Often an improvement on many of our own home-based forwards, it’s almost scandalous that Ghana failed to secure for the Black Stars a man who remains uncapped at international level, given the player’s expressed interest.
Atem flirted briefly with these shores in continental competition against some Ghanaian sides while playing in his native Cameroon, before Ashantigold purchased him in 2003. The striker lasted four seasons, even openly fantasizing about representing the Stars at some point, before moving to Germany.