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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Who’s Felix Afena-Gyan? Story of Jose Mourinho’s Ghanaian teen product at AS Roma

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In Italy, Roma’s youth academy is thought to be one of the prolific relating to creating kids who go on to take pleasure in profitable Serie A careers.

Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi are the usual bearers for the Giallorossi, and this season Lorenzo Pellegrini has taken nice strides in direction of at some point becoming a member of that duo as a homegrown legend at Stadio Olimpico. This season appears set to be the flip of Felix Afena-Gyan.

Thrust into the senior ranks by Jose Mourinho as his facet started to falter in October, most anticipated the 18-year-old to play a bit function, making the odd cameo look off the bench in a bid to earn expertise.

WATCH: Mourinho’s wild celebration on milestone victory

Then Sunday evening’s conflict with Genoa modified every thing.

With the sport goalless getting into the ultimate quarter-hour, Afena-Gyan was launched in its place in a bid to inject some vitality into his facet’s efficiency. Eight minutes later, {the teenager}’s first-time end nestled into the underside nook to offer the guests the lead. Then in stoppage time he unleashed a 25-yard thunderbolt into the highest nook to safe a 2-0 highway victory for Mourinho’s males.

“I promised him that [if he scored] I’d purchase him a pair of sneakers that he actually likes, that price $900,” Mourinho revealed to DAZN after seeing Afena-Gyan grow to be the third-youngest international participant to attain a number of objectives in a Serie A match.

“He came to visit to me and informed me to not neglect that. Tomorrow morning, I’ll go and purchase them.”

Mourinho was good to his phrase, as Afena-Gyan posted a video on Monday of him receiving his new footwear from the two-time Champions League-winning coach.

How did Felix Afena-Gyan signal with Roma?

From the Sunyani district of Ghana to Mourinho shopping for him trainers within the Everlasting Metropolis, Afena-Gyan has come a great distance in a brief time frame.

Till 2018, the teen’s solely actual aggressive soccer got here for his faculty facet earlier than he was signed as much as the EurAfrica FC academy, a youth soccer challenge solely established in 2018.

There he continued to impress scouts – together with Roma’s Morgan De Sanctis and Simone Lo Schiavo – and although he had by no means performed in any of Ghana’s league sides or for the nation as a youth worldwide, he all of the sudden turned the topic of a switch tug-of-war between Roma and AC Milan in January 2021.

MORE: Mourinho proven a crimson card throughout Roma pleasant

Roma gained out, partly attributable to one of the well-known Champions League comebacks of current years.

“It’s superb. It’s a dream come true for me,” he informed BBC Sport following his transfer to Europe. “Roma made a long-lasting impression on me that evening in opposition to Barcelona (in April 2018), and so being part of this superb membership now’s undoubtedly a dream come true.”

Afena-Gyan wasted little time in making an affect on his dream membership, scoring three objectives in his first 4 video games for the Below-18 facet earlier than rapidly being promoted to the Primavera (reserve) outfit, for whom he scored 4 and assisted two in 15 appearances to finish the marketing campaign.

He kicked on once more initially of the 2021-22 season, netting six instances in simply 5 Primavera matches to catch Mourinho’s eye and earn a first-team debut in opposition to Cagliari on October 27.

His tempo and energy helped swing that recreation in Roma’s favor late, and his second look got here in opposition to Genoa three-and-a-half weeks later.

Afena-Gyan’s soccer future

A 100-metre sprinter throughout his faculty athletics days, it’s Afena-Gyan’s velocity that has given him a bonus since he moved to Italy, however his ending capability and motion off the ball can also be encouraging for a striker who can play anyplace throughout the ahead line.

Except for his bodily presents, Mourinho has additionally famous his humility, even when his agent, Oliver Arthur, insists Afena-Gyan has lofty ambitions.

“He’s a participant with plenty of confidence, tempo and energy. His most vital energy is his capability to attain,” Arthur informed BBC Sport. “He additionally has the character of eager to be the perfect on the planet, and has began working in direction of that.

“His transfer is already altering a whole lot of perceptions about African expertise. Most individuals thought it was not potential to maneuver immediately from Africa into the massive golf equipment in Europe, however he has opened the best way and proved it is potential.”

MORE: Ghana’s controversial win in World Cup qualifying results in protest

Unsurprisingly, the eyes of Ghanaian soccer are actually on him, and experiences counsel he was being thought of for a primary call-up to the total worldwide facet for November’s World Cup qualifiers.

Afena-Gyan turned down the chance, feeling he was not able to signify the Black Stars as he continues to develop his recreation.

Many at Roma felt that growth may embody a mortgage transfer in January however, after his Serie A heroics, he’s unlikely to be let go by Mourinho any time quickly.



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