Name: Afriyie Acquah
Age: 22 years old
Position: Central Midfielder
To even be in considered in a list of the thirty best young players from the African continent is a testament to his incredible rise from street kid in the Ghanaian city of Sunyani to key squad member for Serie A club Parma who are in contention for European football this season. He had been living on the streets before Cristopher Antoh Forsyth, who himself was homeless in Ghana before being adopted by a Northern Irish teacher from Belfast took him in at the Glentoran Academy in Ghana.
After his time at the Academy he played for second tier Ghanaian side DC United before being spotted at a tournament in Italy by Palermo. After thirty-one appearances for Palermo and an initial loan spell at Parma he transferred to Hoffenhiem in January 2013 where he endured a difficult time, making no appearances for the club. He enjoyed a resurgence in the following season when he joined Parma on loan again and displayed the abilities which has garnered attention from Ghanaian football media.
Although every emerging midfielder from Ghana is compared to Michael Essien when you take the time to watch Acquah play it becomes a completely reasonable comparison. He’s very comfortable on the ball and although he plays a relatively reserved role for Parma, something that also happened to Essien in clubs he’s played for, he’ll make the occasional burst into the box, shrugging opponents off with ease just like his compatriot. Another similarity between the two is versatility. Acquah has been utilised in holding and a box to box midfield role this season, he’s also been used in a disciplined right wing position. Acquah just need to work on being a bit more ambitious when going forward as he can be potentially devastating as he showed in his equalising goal against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.
By Theo Sakyi: @TKSakyi