Former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah says he was hesitant to take the job of senior national team captain in 2002 as a result of his friendship with teammate former Bayern Munich star Sammy Kuffour.
On May 17, 2002, at the age of 21, the ex- Juventus star captained the Black Stars for the first time in a friendly match against Slovenia and has since gone on to become probably Ghana’s best captain.
Kuffour, he claimed, was a more outstanding player who deserved to lead the squad.
However, he was convinced to take the position by his roommate and goalkeeper Richard Kingson, who assured him of his and the ‘elder statesmen’s support.
“It was a difficult decision for many reasons. For one, I didn’t want to betray Kuffour, a man I had admired for so long. He had accomplished so much and had sacrificed a lot for the good of the team. Some of the things he had done for the team were also the reason why some people didn’t like him,” Appiah told EMY Africa magazine.
“It could have been part of why he didn’t want the captaincy. So it was difficult for me. But I accepted after speaking with Sammy. He encouraged me to take it and assured me of his support. I realized I had started leading the team anyway and the armband was only going to legitimize what I already was.
“Together with the players, we decided to scrap the existing bonus structure. It didn’t make sense to me that bonuses had to be paid based on seniority and status. The Black Stars had a history of disunity and everyone knew this. So I felt we needed to shift the paradigm,” he added.
Appiah led Ghana to its first-ever FIFA World Cup qualification in 2006, when they competed in Germany.
He was also a key figure in Ghana’s 2010 World Cup victory in South Africa, when he made history.
With 67 appearances and 14 goals, Stephen ‘Tornado’ Appiah retired from the Black Stars.