Kofi Abanga: I rejected a house and signed for Hearts
Former Accra Hearts Oak midfielder, Kofi Abanga, has revealed that he turned down an offer by Asante Kotoko to give him a house and rather chose to sign for Hearts of Oak, the team which provided him with the platform to develop into a household name in Ghana football.
Before Abanga signed for Hearts in 2007, he was one of the shining lights in Ghana’s topflight after a months of uncertainty and speculation over his destination whether the Aduana midfield gem would head for Kumasi or the national capital.
For three tumultuous three months he kept the sporting media in a frenzy over his future as he was believed to be torn between Kotoko and Hearts until he signed for the Phobians.
Abanga, speaking to Graphic Sports 13 years after starring in, perhaps one of the biggest transfer dramas in Ghana football, said that despite the media speculation, it was a no-brainer when the time came for him to choose between Hearts and Kotoko.
“Hearts gave me the platform [to become a big player]. Before I played in that coronation match for them, I was not known nationally. There is no way I would have signed for Kotoko, Hearts made me Abanga Tevez,” Abanga said in a telephone interview.
Recounting his journey from Dormaa-Ahenkro [home of Aduana Stars] to the nation’s capital, Abanga said he caught the eyes of supporters of Hearts who facilitated his trials with Hearts after they were impressed with his performance in a community kick-about.
He said Hearts’ Bulgarian coach at the time, Mitko Kostadinov Dobrev, and then Team Manager, Sabahn Quaye, were impressed with his performances during the trials with the club and ensured he was signed on.
“At the time, Hearts were playing their final game of the season and that’s how I met Dobrev and the team manager, Sabahn Quaye, who both asked me to come to Accra for trials. I lived with Stephen Ofei when I went to Accra for the trials. Sabahn (Quaye) told me I did well in the trials and I went on to play for both the U-20 and senior Hearts team during the coronation game and that is how I my name spread after I put up a good show.”
Explaining why he was strongly linked with Kotoko, the smallish player said he signed a pre-season contract with the Porcupine Warriors and trained with them for one month and two weeks because he was not able to reach Quaye (who was on a national assignment with one of the national teams) and also did not hear from any Hearts officials despite an assurance earlier of meeting with the Dormaahene for his release.
Abanga would go on to spend seven years with the Phobians, winning the Ghana Premier League in the 2008/2009 season, GHALCA Top 4 twice, the Homowo Cup and the President’s Cup.