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Harrison Afful

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Harrison Afful

Ghanaian Footballer

Harrison Afful Of Ghana
Date of Birth:
1986-07-24
Place of Birth:
Tema, Ghana

Harrison Afful is a professional Ghanaian footballer. He plays as a fullback for Major League Soccer club Columbus Crew SC and the Ghana national team. He was also on loan to Asante Kotoko and appeared on Feyenoord Academy and ES Tunis.

He was born in Tema Ghana, near Nungua.

He first started his career at the Feyenoord Academy and spent his first two professional seasons with the Academy's senior team. He then moved on loan to Asante Kotoko, spending two seasons with the Porcupines and winning the Ghana Premier League in 2007–08.

He later joined the ES Tunis of the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 and played the next six seasons with Tunis, appearing for the club more than 180 times.

The Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 won four league titles during Afful's time there as well as appearing in three CAF Champions League finals and winning the 2011 CAF Champions League Final. Afful scored the only goal over the two legs. He was then moved to

Tunis won four league titles during Afful's time there, appeared in three CAF Champions League finals, and won the 2011 CAF Champions League Final; Afful scored the only goal over the two legs. In the summer of 2015, Afful moved to the United States and signed for Columbus Crew SC and helped the club reach MLS Cup 2015 in his first season.

Afful his Ghanaian debut at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations helped Ghana to a third-place finish in that tournament. He played at the AFCON tournaments for Ghana finishing as runners-up in 2010 and 2015. He also appeared twice in Ghana's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

In Sepetember2015, he captained Ghana in a friendly match against Congo.

Club career

He was discovered by SAM Ardy and joined the Feyenoord Academy. In 20018, he went on trial with Feyenoord but was released after four weeks without a contract. He also trained in Stabæk, Helsingborgs IF, and Mamelodi Sundowns but returned to Ghana after failing to land a contract.

Following the Feyenoord Academy's relegation to the Division One League, Afful returned to the Ghana Premier League with a loan to Asante Kotoko. The move was made possible through a clause in Jordan Opoku's contract. He had been bought by Kotoko the year before, and his contract allowed Asante Kotoko to choose one player to bring in on loan from the Academy. They exercised it by choosing Afful.

Afful impressed Kotoko head coach Bashir Hayford with his performance during a 10-minute cameo in a friendly match, allowing him to break into the first team after initially appearing to be outside Hayford's plans. He made his league debut for the club and scored in a 3–0 victory against All Blacks on 2 December 2007.

Afful was named as the league's Player of the Year as Asante Kotoko won the Ghana Premier League title in 2007–08. Upon the expiration of his initial one-year loan, he returned to the Feyenoord Academy and undertook multiple trials in Europe and elsewhere in Africa.

Those trials proved unsuccessful, and Afful returned to Asante Kotoko on loan for the second half of the 2008–09 season. He finished his time on loan with five goals from 68 appearances in all competitions.

Upon the expiration of his loan deal, Kotoko reportedly opened talks for a permanent transfer but was unable to reach a deal with the Academy.

On 25 August 2009, Afful officially signed a three-year contract with Tunisian club Espérance Sportive de Tunis (EST). He had trained with the club prior to the announcement and had scored a goal in a friendly match, helping convince Tunis to complete the signing.

He made his debut for EST on 12 September, playing the full 90 minutes in a 4–0 victory over CS Sfaxien. Afful scored his first two goals for the club in a three-match span in the spring of 2010, rallying against CA Bizertin on 28 April and ES Hammam-Sousse on 15 May.

He finished the season with two goals from 23 appearances in all competitions as Tunis claimed their second consecutive Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1 (CLP-1) title.

In his second season at ES Tunis, Afful did not play a large role in league play. He appeared 17 times without a goal as the Blood and Gold claimed their third consecutive league title, but did start in the Tunisian Cup final as Tunis defeated Étoile du Sahel.

Instead, he became a fixture in the Tunis squad in 2010 CAF Champions League play. Afful made his debut in the tournament on 16 July 2010, appearing in Group A play against ES Sétif.

He went on to appear in every game of the tournament from the group stage on, helping lead EST to the 2010 CAF Champions League Final against TP Mazembe. Afful played 90 minutes in the first leg in a 5–0 defeat for Tunis.

He scored in the 24th minute of the second leg, his first-ever goal in the competition, but Tunis could only manage a 1–1 draw and were defeated on aggregate. On the season, Afful appeared 31 times in all competitions and scored once.

Just as in the prior season, Afful played sparingly in the CLP-1: he appeared in 16 league matches without scoring as Tunis rolled to a fourth consecutive league crown. In the 2011 CAF Champions League play, Afful again played a headlining role as Tunis advanced to the continental final for the second consecutive year.

He came off the bench in the first leg of the 2011 CAF Champions League Final, replacing Wajdi Bouazizi in the 90th minute of a draw with Wydad Casablanca. Afful started in the second leg, playing at right-back at the Stade 7 November.

In the 22nd minute, he placed a left-footed, curling shot into the upper corner, a goal that gave Tunis a 1–0 victory and the second Champions League title in club history. By virtue of winning the Champions League, Tunis qualified for the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.

Afful appeared off the bench in the quarterfinals against Al Sadd and started the fifth-place match against Monterrey. He played 31 times in all competitions, scoring once, during the course of the season.

Although Afful's contract with ES Tunis expired at the end of June, he signed a three-year contract extension on 2 July 2012. With his contract situation resolved, he found his scoring boots in CLP-1 play, scoring goals against ES Zarzis on 21 November, JS Kairouan on 8 December, and Club Africain on 31 March 2013.

Afful again played a vital role for EST in the Champions League, helping the Blood and Gold advance to their third consecutive final to take on Al Ahly. He played 73 minutes in the first leg of the 2012 CAF Champions League Final, helping Tunis earn a 1–1 draw but was suspended for the second leg due to yellow card accumulation.

With Afful watching from the stands, Tunis lost the second leg by a 2–1 scoreline. He appeared 28 times in all competitions during the campaign, scoring three goals.

2013–14 was the busiest season of Afful's career to date: he appeared in a career-high 38 matches in all competitions and scored six goals. In CLP-1 play, he scored twice before the turn of the year, tallying against Stade Tunisien on 3 November and LPS Tozeur on 25 December.

He continued his form after new head coach Ruud Krol was hired, scoring in the return fixture against Tunisien on 15 February. Afful then tallied the game-winning goal against Sfaxien on 2 April, helping Tunis claim their fourth league title in his five seasons at the club.

He added ten more appearances in the 2013 CAF Champions League, but EST was defeated by Orlando Pirates in the semifinals and denied a fourth consecutive trip to the final.

Afful then began the 2014 CAF Champions League by scoring in both the first and second qualifying rounds, helping Tunis advance over Gor Mahia and Real Bamako, respectively.

In April 2014, Afful was the subject of transfer interest, with reports from his native Ghana claiming that he was the subject of an offer from Olympique de Marseille. The French club was reportedly looking to sign Afful before the 2014 FIFA World Cup began, in an effort to keep his price down.

Following the domestic season, however, ES Tunis announced that Afful would not leave the club until after the World Cup at the earliest. He continued to attract interest after the World Cup, with a reported 13 European clubs battling for his signature; however, it was Al Wahda, of the United Arab Emirates, who reportedly won the race for his services.

He underwent a medical, but the club canceled the deal after ES Tunis broke off communication and he thus returned to Tunisia.

After any potential move in the summer fell through, Afful returned to Tunis to begin the 2014–15 season. On 31 August, in a match away to Bizertin, he scored two goals to help EST claim a 3–1 victory. Afful would not score again for the remainder of the league season as Espérance placed third in the CLP-1, their lowest league finish during Afful's time at the club.

With his contract set to expire at the end of June 2015, he was rumored to be re-signing a two-year deal with the Blood and Gold. In the final month of his contract, he appeared twice in the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup.

However, Afful and the club could not agree on a new contract, and he departed after six seasons, 183 appearances, and 17 goals with Tunis.

Following his departure from Tunis at the end of June 2015, Afful was reportedly not paid the remaining salaries and bonuses owed to him by the club. He filed a case with FIFA over the issue, and in May 2016 the organization sided with Afful in the case.

FIFA ordered Espérance to pay the remaining monies within one month of the ruling date; if they failed to do so, they would be docked six points in league play. FIFA also ruled that if the debts persisted, Tunis would be relegated to the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 2. The club also paid a fine "in the tens of thousands of Swiss francs to FIFA".

After his contract with Tunis expired at the end of June, Afful joined Major League Soccer (MLS) club Columbus Crew SC as a Discovery Signing. He was recommended to the club by ex-Ghanaian international Joe Addo, who had played alongside Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter in the 1990s.

Although the transfer was announced on 30 July 2015, Afful was only added to the roster after securing his visa and thus had to wait to make his club debut until 19 August. He started a 2–2 draw with New York City FC, playing 60 minutes before being replaced by Hector Jiménez.

Afful missed several matches while on international duty but returned to start every game in Crew SC's run to MLS Cup 2015. Against Portland Timbers in the final, he played the full 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card as Columbus was defeated 2–1. Afful made 14 appearances in his first season in Columbus and had his contract option picked up by the club on 7 December.

Afful was rumored to be leaving Columbus ahead of the 2016 season, with reports from his native Ghana claiming that he would be joining Mersin ?man Yurdu when his contract expired at the end of 2015. No transfer came to pass, however, and he returned to Columbus for his first full season with the Black and Gold.

Although Afful again missed time while appearing with Ghana, he did find the time to score his first MLS goal: a 54th-minute strike against Toronto FC on 13 July.

He added two more goals in the final month of the season, scoring in a victory over Chicago Fire on 1 October and a defeat against New York Red Bulls in the season finale on 16 October.

He did pick up a red card in a 1–1 draw with D.C. United on 16 July, but the card was rescinded by the league two days later. Afful finished the season with three goals and three assists from 30 appearances.

Afful's 2017 season was marred by injuries: a knee laceration in March, a sliced nerve in his hand in April, a thigh strain in late summer, and a sprained foot in October.

Although he did not score during the regular season, he found the back of the net in the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. In the first leg of the conference semifinals against New York City FC, Afful scored three minutes into stoppage time to give Columbus a 4–1 victory; that goal would end up being the difference as the club advanced by a 4–3 aggregate scoreline.

He finished the season with one goal from 29 appearances and again had his contract option picked up by Crew SC.

Afful bounced back in 2018 with two goals and six assists from 35 total appearances. In one three-game span in July and August, he provided an assist in each match and helped Columbus claim three consecutive victories.

Afful tallied the third-most shots on the team, behind only Gyasi Zardes and Pedro Santos but tallied just two goals: against San Jose Earthquakes in April and New York City FC in September. He added an assist in the knockout round of the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, helping Columbus to advance on penalties over D.C. United.

After an injury-free 2018, Afful was limited to just 24 appearances in all competitions over the course of the 2019 season. In a home match against Atlanta United on 30 March, he collided with countryman Jonathan Mensah and suffered a fractured jaw.

Afful missed eleven matches due to the injury, returning on 11 June and making his U.S. Open Cup debut in a victory over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

Although he did not score on the year, Afful provided two assists over a three-match span in August. His contract expired following the season, but the Crew announced that the sides were still in negotiations; nine days later, they agreed on a deal for Afful to return to the club on a new contract.

In the first season of his new contract, Afful appeared in both games for the Crew before the 2020 season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon the resumption of the season, he made three appearances at the MLS is Back Tournament as Columbus was eliminated in the round of 16 by Minnesota United. Afful then played all but one game during the remainder of the regular season, scoring a goal in a 2–1 loss against Orlando City on 4 November.

In the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs, he started every game as the Crew advanced to MLS Cup 2020, the second time that Afful appeared in the league's championship match. Against Seattle Sounders FC in the final, he provided an assist to Lucas Zelarayán on the game-winning goal as the Crew claimed a 3–0 victory.

Afful scored one goal in 26 total appearances on the season and won his first trophy since arriving in Columbus in 2015. Following the season, the Crew picked up the option on his contract, ensuring his return for the seventh season in Columbus.

International career

Afful debuted in the Ghanaian international setup at the under-20 level, appearing six times and scoring a goal for the side. He struggled to lock down a place on the team outside 2006, however, and later said that "my unsuccessful attempts at the junior national teams [were] not as a result of poor performance".

Afful made his debut for the senior national team at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations. He had not been named in the 40-man preliminary squad but was called up to the final squad by coach Claude Le Roy. Afful earned his first cap on 9 February in the third-place match, entering as an 89th-minute substitute in the 4–2 victory over Ivory Coast.

Although Le Roy resigned in May 2008, Afful continued to earn playing time under caretaker Sellas Tetteh and new manager Milovan Rajevac: he appeared 10 times in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, helping the Black Stars qualify for the final tournament with games to spare.

He was then called up to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, and although Ghana made a run to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations Final he did not make an appearance at the tournament.

Afful was left off Ghana's squad for the 2010 World Cup, failing to even crack the Black Stars' preliminary roster. After appearing against South Africa in a friendly in August, Afful would not earn another cap for nearly two years.

Afful was recalled to the Black Stars in June 2012, as James Kwesi Appiah brought him in for 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Lesotho and Zambia.

After appearing just twice in qualifying for the tournament, Afful was called up to the Ghanaian squad for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, alongside his club teammate Emmanuel Clottey. Afful appeared five times at the tournament and played 90 minutes in the third-place playoff as the Black Stars were defeated 3–1 by Mali.

On 12 May 2014, Afful was named in Ghana's 30-man preliminary squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Head coach James Kwesi Appiah then named him to the final squad on 2 June. Afful appeared twice as Ghana was eliminated in the group stage, providing an assist in a draw against eventual world champions Germany on 21 June.

After appearing in all six matches in Ghana's 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification run, Afful was named to the squad for the final tournament on 7 January 2015. He appeared in every match at the tournament, helping the Black Stars reach the final against Ivory Coast.

Afful scored his attempt in the penalty shootout as the eighth taker, but Ghana was defeated 9–8 on spot-kicks; for the second time, he finished as an AFCON runner-up.

Later that year, Afful captained Ghana for the first time, leading the team to a 3–2 victory over Congo on 1 September. He was back in an AFCON squad two years later, earning a place in the Ghanaian team for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Afful played every minute in the tournament, helping the Black Stars to a fourth-place finish after falling to Burkina Faso in the third-place match.

Although Ghana had appeared in three consecutive World Cups, the Black Stars failed in their bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Afful appeared six times in qualifying, including four matches in the third round as Ghana placed third in their group and missed out on the World Cup for the first time since 2002.

He returned to Ghana is 2018 after his failure to qualify and mande two nappearances in the Africa Cup of Nations. He hsuffered an injury an was therefore not named in Ghana's roster for the tournament.

Honours

Ghana Premier League: 2007–08

Sport Writers Association of Ghana Cup: 2008

GHALCA President's Republic Day Cup: 2008

Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1: 2009–10, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2013–14

Tunisian Cup: 2010–11

CAF Champions League: 2011

MLS Cup: 2020

Ghana Player of the Year: 2015

Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament: 2015

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