Sports Features Wed, 14 Nov 2018

Baba Armando: The incomplete story of a complete genius

As a young football obsessed child growing up in the 90’s, GTV Sports highlight was the main medium I used to get to see my favorite local Ghanaian players in action. I and my friends never missed the program as we will talk about the classy goals which were scored and at times try to imitate the goals and extraordinary skills when we get to our grassless pitches to play.

In terms of spectacular goals and breath-taking skills, one name always stood tall, that was then Kumasi Asante Kotoko schemer Baba Adamu Armando. Every child in my vicinity will try to emulate Armando when we get to our field, from scissor kick goals to rabona and exquisite back-heels, the Kotoko star was the master of them all.

Gradually, Armando who started his career at All Blacks became a household name among the young and the old, he was the only local player I wanted to watch with my naked eyes. It was a dream fulfilled for me when he started playing Sunday-special at the Dogo Moro Park in Asawasi-Kumasi. I always preferred to spend vacations at my grand mother’s place in Asawasi so that I could get the chance to watch Armando.

Baba Armando was arguably the best player in the Ghana Premier League in 1998, a naturally talented player who can operate as a schemer, offensive play maker and a leading striker, he had it all as a footballer ; eye for goal, artistry, ball juggling, pace and a ferocious left foot. He was a nightmare for all the defenders he faced.

Armando had the perfect career start any talented footballer could dream off, an impressive season with All Blacks in 1997 saw him securing a move to United Arab Emirates side Al Shabab. The young Armando made it big in UAE and at a time most Ghanaian players (Even those in Europe) were earning peanuts, Armando was virtually a millionaire. He was the first Ghanaian player who customized his car number plate. He branded his new Benz “Diego 1”

After a season in UAE, Armando had his long awaited dream come true, he joined Kumasi Asante in 1998 and established himself as the kingpin of the team. His goal scoring prowess saw Al Shabab bringing him back to UAE for a second time with a mega offer. He continued where he left off and became club’s top scorer in two seasons.

A move to Europe reckoned and Armando could not resist when the Russian clubs came calling. From 2011, he played for several Russian including Krylia Sevetov where he netted 7 goals in 22 appearances and FC Rostov who he scored five in 16 games.

The best moment in Armando’s European career was in Krylia Sevetov, he qualified them to the UEFA Cup and his scissor kick goal against Dutch-side AZ Alkmaar on September 15, 2005 was nominated for UEFA best goal of the season.

Going to the 2006 World Cup, Armando was one of Ghana’s hottest strikers abroad. He had previously made his Black Stars debut on August 7, 1999 against the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica in which he scored but had been left in oblivion since then only to be called back for the 2006 AFCON where he was given only 45 minutes playing time but scored against Zimbabwe.

Despite Armando’s exploits, the Black Stars technical team were not keen on him, they never gave him the chance for alleged disciplinary reasons though any less minutes he got he made sure that he proved his mettle. Being one of the gifted players of his generation, the left-footed attacker really believed in his capabilities and was never afraid to speak his mind.

“Playing football has resulted in people trying to destroy my image and doing all kind of things. When I was ready to do my own thing for Ghana in Germany, I was denied the opportunity,” Armando told Boss FM prior to his retirement from football five years ago.

“It is time for me to quit football and move one, I have been thinking of it since I failed to make the 2006 World Cup squad and now it is time for me to quit football and move on,”

“The current boys in no way can ever win us the trophy we are all praying for, because they are too ordinary. ” He added.

After the legendary Abedi Pele, Baba Adamu Armando who spent his last days with Al Hilal, King Faisal and Berekum Chelsea can be ranked as the most naturally talented player Ghana has ever seen in recent years though many will remember him as a player who did not reach his full potential.

Undoubtedly, Armando’s account can be termed as an “Incomplete Story of a Complete Genius.”

Source: Footballmadeinghana.com
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