Former Ghanaian football star John Paintsil recently shared his journey of resilience and triumph, shedding light on the challenges he overcame to achieve success in his athletic career.
Paintsil revealed that, before attaining fame and prosperity, he encountered formidable obstacles that nearly led him to abandon his football aspirations. Recounting a poignant experience, he discussed receiving a call-up to the national under-20 team, which required him to travel to Accra for a trial.
Despite being unfamiliar with Ghana’s capital, Paintsil embarked on the journey, armed only with a bag containing gari, football boots, and a jersey. Struggling to find his relative’s residence upon arrival, he narrated, “I knew no one in Accra and only heard about Accra New Town. I had only one destination in my bag when I picked up my bag, and that was Accra New Town.” He described spending two weeks residing near a lotto kiosk, jogging between New Town and Accra Sports Stadium, subsisting on gari without sugar.
“I only had gari, jersey, and my boots. I got to New Town and couldn’t figure out where to stay. I spotted a lotto kiosk and made up my mind that It was going to be my place of abode until I located my sister’s house in New Town. So for the next two weeks, I will jog to and from New Town and Accra Sports Stadium. I ate gari without sugar for two weeks”
Paintsil’s determination prevailed, and upon making the final list for the under-20 team, he couldn’t contain his tears. Reflecting on those challenging times, he shared, “When the final list came and I made the list, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I wasn’t bathing because I couldn’t. If I wasn’t determined and had no plan, I would have given up. There were times I wanted to give up but I thought of my dreams and decided to press on.”
His resilience paid off as Paintsil went on to have a successful career, representing Ghana in two World Cup tournaments and various AFCON editions, including 2008 and 2012.
At the club level, he played for teams such as Fulham, Leicester, and West Ham, accumulating 89 appearances for the Ghanaian national team.