His eyes did a quick scan of the foyer of the Kumasi Golden Tulip, as if checking for intruders the moment he stepped out the elevator.
The dial on my watch read 8:00 pm as I checked for an umpteenth time, waiting to interview the man who on the day was not the focus of the spotlight, however, Thomas Partey, was the reason the entire game came together with the way it did.
Hours after it was all over, Fans and colleague journalists alike could not top gushing about how masterful his display was and how he looked like a veteran in the setup.
Ghana’s Black Stars had just recorded an emphatic 5 – 0 win over Ethiopia to begin the 2019 Afcon qualifiers on a high, the second coming of Kwesi Appiah off to the perfect start.
Through the chaotic mix of hotel butlers, journalists, well-wishers and over enthusiastic fans he spotted his family huddled in silent conversation near where the Live band was loudest.
I was positioned far enough not to look like one who didn’t belong, but also close enough to cut off his progress as he approached them.
I made my move, cutting him off as he walked within an arm’s length and stated my mission about wanting an interview on his meteoric rise within Atletico Madrid and also the Black Stars.
A smile broke across his face as he gestured towards his waiting family.
His mum and dad as well as younger siblings and members of his extended family, the whole crew was present.
“If I finish taking care of them, then we can talk, he stated with finality.
I found myself a cozy corner away from the raucous crowd and plugged in my phone, waiting for my opportunity while I watched them dine and talk.
An hour turned to two hours and then three, I was still waiting.
As the minutes turned to hours, it dawned on me how my own selfish aggression for an interview blinded me to the importance of family and the role they play in our lives.
The man had just proven to me that nothing was worth sacrificing for the core from which you are born.
His mother and father sold cherished family heirlooms to give him a chance to become what he is now and at that point it all became clearer.
Slowly my anger and frustration transformed into appreciation and admiration and how this translates unto the pitch where his legacy will be carved.
Ghana’s national team the Black Stars have a leadership vacuum which is perhaps bigger than it has ever been.
“There are good players in the team but I think Partey is doing great and he can lead the team,”
“He is doing wonderful with his Club and the National team as well, he captained the team on a few occasions and I think he will be a good leader.” revealed former Black Stars midfielder Michael Essien.
Thomas Partey might not have an intimate bond with every one of us, but in my two up close encounters with the man, I can state for sure that he is a calm soul and a deep thinker.
Never speaks too soon, and is always immensely aware of his entire surroundings.
He got off the mark for Ghana in September 2017, during a World Cup qualifier against Congo at the Baba Yara Stadium grabbing a late equalizer for the team in a 1-1 draw.
Partey then went on to cement his status as one of the Africa’s leading midfielders when his hat-trick against Congo days after, in the return leg of the qualifier helped Ghana to an impressive 5-1 win in Brazzaville.
The Black Stars and Atletico Madrid find themselves at different watersheds, but both share a thing in common, a man who will never turn his back on the people who have always been there for him through thick and thin.
The Owl of Odumase
“I am like an owl inside.
“I believe that every man is a god unto himself and that’s why I put my face on my arm .
He pointed to his right forearm to what seemed like a pair of eyes crowded out by markings of ink.
His vision was clear and he possessed the traits of Kings.
The Owl Personality explained
According to spiritual healer and author Jordana Van
The owl personality has the unusual ability to sense emotions (love, hatred, insecurity, fear etc.) Also they are exceptional readers of body language and can sense when they are being deceived by monitoring subtle movements.
They are very emotional beings but are also adept at concealing their emotions.
This personality is most powerful when they are observing in silence and patiently waiting to swoop in on their goal.
Finally they have the ability to create and digest concepts that regular personalities can barely comprehend.
With traits of one of the most mysterious and feared birds of prey embedded in his DNA,the nuance of Partey’s career progression path made a lot more sense.
It is clear after learning this about the man that he has been the master of his own destiny.
Listening to what might seem like sound advice along the way but calling his own shots based on his own inclination.
It looks set to transcend the decisions he will make going forward.
For him becoming an Atletico Madrid legend and Leader of Ghana’s national team are firmly within reach and sabotaging those with rush decisions will not be an option.
“I am working towards the future now, I try to do my work when I get on the field. I listen to instructions from the manager and I try to add a little bit of insight when I can.
Ahead of the 2018/2019 season, he made it clear that he considers himself to be among the very best and working hard to solidify that reputation was his only goal.
Tasting from the fountain of goals has given him an appetite that has also changed his perception of the game.
“In football now goals do everything, when you score more goals you get more hype and the opportunities so I just try to add that to my game.
“I know that with goals I will progress further than without it”.
An asset that had been deployed in many ways by Simeone, was it hard when he had to play in less natural roles like defense?
No. He answered defiantly
“I can say that I like to help my team, I don’t really think of playing in any particular position on the pitch.
“I am a midfielder and everyone knows that and that I also like to have possession of the ball.
“Now I can’t that I am midfielder or a right fullback, my goal is to help the team and that’s always my mentality, “he revealed.
A servant leader again revealing himself through a few words.
Loyal to the bone and until the point where he felt unwanted.
Atletico vs Real Madrid
Loyalty and defiance rule the streets of Ashaiman, where talent like his and good friend and dance-hall artist Stonebwoy were nurtured.
On the night he marked a 100 caps for his only club side he could have chosen to hog the moment.
Stepping out to Stonebwoy music at the Wanda Metropolitano is a willing to share his spotlight while recognizing those that have been there with him along the journey.
His new found joy and ability to contribute on the offensive end is exciting on all levels, perhaps even to sworn rivals Real Madrid.
Moving from Atletico to Real is a transition few players have dared to make but with the changing times of the global game who knows what’s possible and feasible and what is not.
Would he ever consider trading the Metropolitano for the Santiago Bernabeu? I asked him as we sat across each other in the studios of Citi TV.
“It depends on my situation with Atletico, if they don’t want me to stay then it means that I have to change and its part of football you never know what will happen, but at the moment I am happy at home.
“The only thing that runs through my mind when I drive past the Bernabeu is how much I want to score against them and get a win against them,” he indicated while trying to conceal a smile.
Believing you are primed for greatness and that you are one of the best is the first step to being the best.
That essentially is what I walked away with after my conversation with Thomas.
Locking down extra playing time by becoming a regular starter for Atletico is the next step.
How it will happen remains to be seen.
It’s obvious that they are more efficient and lethal as a team with him in the pitch than with him off it
And then comes his chance to form a lethal partnership within the Black Stars set up as the Afcon qualifiers with Kwadwo Asamoah.
Both club and country present the perfect opportunity to push his global brand up another notch.
The dynamics that rule both Atletico and Ghana’s Black Stars are very different but they have one unifying leader in Partey, he is hungry for success, and with the torch of cautious loyalty in his hand,his path is well illuminated