Bismark ‘Nana’ Adjei-Boateng has joined the Colorado Rapids from English Premier League club, Manchester City. Here he tells Richard Fleming about his journey from Ghana to the USA, via England and Norway.
Richard Fleming: First off, do you go by (the name) Bismark, do you go by ‘Nana’? Which do you prefer?
Bismark Adjei-Boateng: The name on my passport is Bismark Adjei-Boateng, but ‘Nana’ is like, in Ghana when you are born on a day, they give you a name, so I was born on a Thursday and that’s why I’m called Nanaba. Originally I was called Bismark Adjei-Boateng.
RF: And so what will you have on the back of your jersey?
BAB: I haven’t decided yet. I’m thinking either to have Boateng or Nana.
RF: You’re 22 years of age, and you’re making this switch from Norway (via Manchester City) to Colorado. How big a step is this for you, both personally and professionally?
BAB: For me I’m just excited to come over there for a new challenge. I love a challenge. I always want to prove to myself that I’m getting better and improving, so I’m very, very excited to come there. Professionally I’m also going to go out there, I get a chance to come to (the) US and also establish myself and also develop as a player, so I’m really looking forward to it.
RF: Your story is a fascinating one, and it’s not unfamiliar to US soccer fans - David Accam and a couple of other players have had a similar journey. The Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, for those that are not familiar with it, explain what it is and explain what your journey has been so far.
BAB: I was about 10 or nine when I went to the Right to Dream Academy. It’s sort of like a football school, though you go to school and you play football at the same time. So, you train in the morning (and) after you go to school. We have two training sessions in a day, so you train first, then you go to school, and then you train again. You’re going to be there for a period of time. It’s like in a school, when you get vacation, then you go back to your family. You’ll be in the academy for like three months, then you’d get three weeks off to go and see family, then you’ll go back.
I was there for, like, six years and I had a chance to travel to England to play a tournament called the Premier Cup, which I was seen by (Manchester) City. They invited me over, and I got an opportunity to train with them. They were interested, and when I was 18 I signed my first professional contract, and I was then given to a team in Norway on a loan, and since then I’ve been there for four years and now I’m going to move to the United States. It’s been a long journey for me.
RF: Describe, in your words, the kind of player that you are.
BAB: For me I think that I am a box-to-box player. I like to go into the box and score goals, and I have the ability to defend. I have both. I like to run behind defenders. I’m strong and quick.
RF: There are a number of Ghanaian players in Major League Soccer. Have you picked their brains and got some background from them?
BAB: Yes I have. I have four friends who play (in MLS). I have one friend who plays for Chicago Fire, David Accam, and I have one friend also, called Emmanuel Boateng, who plays for LA Galaxy. I spoke to Accam a lot when I was in Ghana for this Christmas, so I’ve got a pretty good idea as to how the system works in the States, and I’m just looking forward. It’s going to be exciting for me to come there.
NOTE: Adjei-Boateng is joined in MLS by former teammate Mohammed Abu. Both signed for their respective clubs on the same day (January 24). Abu joined Columbus Crew SC, having originally been signed by - but not played for - Manchester City, before arriving in the States from Strømsgodset.
RF: And to a Rapids side that had a very good 2016, with the likes of Tim Howard. How excited are you at joining a side that had a very good season, and then obviously people will hope that you come in and improve this team?
BAB: My goal is to come to the club and hopefully gain experience with, as you said, Tim Howard. I’m looking forward and excited to meet him, ‘cause he has great experience and he has played in England for so long, so I think there are some great players in the team and I’m just willing to go there and they help me. For me, personally, it’s for me to go there and help the team to improve on what they did last year, because in everything you always want to improve every year, so my goal is to go there, help the team, get help from teammates, the staff and everyone, so we can make two thousand and 17 a good year for all of us.
Click HERE to listen to Adjei-Boateng's first interview as a Rapids player.