Gerald Asamoah will go down in history as the first African-born player to play for the German national team but according to him he didn't achieve that on a silver plateer.
He said he didn’t realise that his singular decision to play for Germany offered so much liberation to other Africans in Germany.
“I remember my first World Cup in Japan/Korea and I was sitting on the bench for Germany, there was a photographer passing by the pitch and he asked me hey what are you doing here and I said I play for Germany. He was like you are a German? That’s crazy.”
According to Asamoah, people initially struggled to come to terms with seeing a black guy in the Germany national team.
“ This decision (to play for Germany) changed a lot. Everywhere I went people were like “hey thank you for doing this, others were like now I am, accepted at my place of work. I never knew it was so hard until people approached and thanked me before I realise the importance of my decision to play for Germany.”
Asamoah left Ghana when he was 12-years-old, and through hard work and perseverance he earned a call-up to the German national team in 2001 during a friendly game with Slovakia.
He made an instant impact, scoring on his first appearance for the European powerhouse.
His impressive performances in the German Bundesliga helped his case in the build-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and it wasn’t surprising that he made it into the Germany squad for that tournament.
But before those successes, Gerald Asamoah had been diagnosed with a rare heart condition that threatened his career.
“ You have a dream and now doctors come in to say it is over. It was one of the worst days of my life. Everything was black and I said what is going on?
“So I said God if you help me get through this and get onto the pitch again I would want to give something back,” Asamoah told DW Sports in a recent interview.
“In 1998, Doctors told me I can’t play football again. I sat out for three months, underwent treatment and enjoyed my career later. My dream is to build a Cardiac Hospital to treat such problems since it is very expensive.”
Despite featuring for Germany at international level, the burly striker said he has not lost track of his Ghanaian roots.
“I’m a Ghanaian and everyone knows that. I will do my best to support the development of Ghana in my small way.”