Sports News Fri, 20 May 2022

Tony Yeboah and Eintracht Frankfurt: The enviable relationship that had a rocky start

When Eintracht Frankfurt won the Europa League on Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the club presented the trophy to Tony Yeboah to celebrate their 40 years of wait for a European trophy with the legend.

Tony Yeboah was one of the few legends flown by the club to watch the final in Seville as they played against the Rangers.

The love Frankfurt has shown Yeboah since he left the club in 1995 is admirable but the truth is that the love story between the former Black Stars player and the German side has gone through a gamut of love emotions.

At age 20, Tony Yeboah was the hottest player in Ghana Football, banging in goals for fun at Okwahu United.

Ghana Premier League clubs giants like Accra Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko came calling. What extraordinary things has he done to be worth the chase?

20-year-old Tony Yeboah had scored more than 40 goals across two seasons- from 1986 to 1988, if this doesn't define generational talent and worth chasing what else would?

He was adored and cherished in Kwahu and was not ready to exchange that for anything. The people of Kwahu could do anything for him to feel comfortable.

To Tony, he would have become just another player in any other club but at Okwaku he was building a legend in the making.

Today, Okwahu is in the country's third tier, lacking funds and struggling to regain its status as one of the biggest clubs in Ghana Football.

Back then, highly rated past Chairman of the Premier League board, Welbeck Abra-Appiah led the team's administration together with some business moguls, hence, money was not a problem. Therefore, money could not entice Tony.

How did Tony Yeboah land in Frankfurt?

As mentioned earlier, nothing could entice Tony to move from Okwahu. After the 1988 season, the club received trial offers from Germany for the former Black Stars striker.

He hesitated about the trail and it took Abbrah-Appiah to convince him to give it a try.

He eventually accepted and moved to Germany, trialled at Dortmund, Kaiserslautern, and other clubs but a naive Tony could not land himself a deal.

However, FC Saarbrücken offered him a chance in the Bundesliga in 1988. He had a rocky first season but he would go on to score 17 goals in his second season, Tony Yeboah has finally arrived.

During the 1988/89 season, Saarbrücken faced Eintracht Frankfurt in a relegation playoff game. Frankfurt had won the first leg 2-0 but the second leg was all Tony Yeboah.

He banged two goals and destroyed the Frankfurt defense led by Dietmar Roth. The away side got a consolation through Frank Schulz and won the tie on aggregate.

Frankfurt would go on to sign Yeaboah in 1990, against the wish of the supporters because of his race.

He became the first black player the club had signed and was subjected to racism and insults from his own fans.

The only way Tony would turn his enemies into fans was to deliver, what is there to deliver? bang in the goals and he did just that.

He scored 15 goals in the 1992-93 season, finishing fourth on the top scorer's chart. After that he owned one of the charitable accolades in German football- Goal King twice, in 1993-94 and 1994-1995, scoring 20 and 18 goals respectively.

If you ever wondered why he is called "Yegoala", he simply knew where the goal is; proper prolific striker with an amazing left foot.

The Frankfurt fans who were against him have now fallen in love with their captain and could not have enough of him. But just when their love began to grow, English side Leeds United made a bid of £3.4 million in January 1995 for him and Frankfurt had nothing to do but to let go of the deadly striker for a big cheque.

During his time in Germany, he championed the campaign against racism in German football. He paved way for Frankfurt to sign more black players including former Asante Kotoko player and now Bibiani Gold Stars coach, Michael Osei.

Tony became an icon and just like he was adored back in Okwahu he was adored and idolized in Frankfurt.

There is a picture of him at the main train station in Frankfurt in his honour, fans have his tattoos on their body, and a mural of Yeboah on a five-story building closer to Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena.

His birthday celebration is a big deal for the club and the fans. He has his pictures at the club's museum as well.

Tony Yeboah's name is attached to the club's history forever and will be told for ages to come. That boy from the streets of Kumasi to playing in Okwahu bridged the gap between white and black in German football.

He made 156 appearances, scoring 86 goals. In total 228 appearances, scoring 120 goals in German football in the space of 7 years.

Tony Yeboah's story at Leeds United will be told another day.

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Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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