Kevin-Prince Boateng is often associated with the word ‘controversial’.
Not that surprising when the man himself confirms “You know, I’m always honest”.
Controversy was not far away from Boateng when he and fellow Ghanaian player Sulley Muntari were ejected from the 2014 World Cup in Brasil for disciplinary reasons.
Controversy was there on social media in the wake of Ghana’s exit from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations tournament when Prince fired shots in the general direction of the Ghana FA.
And more controversy when it seems that Boateng seems to want to pick and choose when to play for Ghana.
Racism in football has not been addressed
Boateng walked off during a friendly between Milan and Pro Patria in January 2013 when he, Urby Emanuelson, M’Baye Niang and Sulley Muntari were racially abused by so-called fans. Subsequently, Boateng was invited to speak at the UN about racism, but he himself notes
we definitely didn’t fight racism the way I thought. We had lots of ideas but it didn’t change nothing. Just saying no to racism on a commercial doesn’t do it: it’s nice, but you only see it during the Champions League …
Football will chew you up and spit you out
A 20-year old Boateng signed for English club Tottenham Hotspur. It turned out to be a bad move – the youngster was ill-prepared for the hard life of a professional footballer in a foreign country. While footballers may have personal problems, the fans as well as coaches and teammates may not have time for that….
Fans don’t care what’s in your private life, what happened in your past, where you come from. If you don’t perform they judge. I was the same, a fan judging Hertha Berlin players. That will never change. You’re a number in this system. You cost money, if you don’t work, they change the number.
Easy come, easy go
A significant number of professional athletes struggle to cope with earning large amounts of cash and knowing how to spend responsibly. Kevin-Prince was no different and it’s quite easy to see how a lot of pro sportspeople end up as broke athletes.
I was spending serious amounts: nightclubs, clothes, cars.” Three in one day, the story goes. “True,” he says. “Because you try to buy happiness. I couldn’t play football so I buy a Lamborghini. Wow, you’re happy for a week. After that you don’t even use it. Who drives around Loughton in a Lamborghini? I still have a picture: three cars, big house, I’m standing there like I’m 50 Cent. I look at it sometimes and say: ‘Look how stupid you were.’
Time to apply lessons learned
Boateng wants to try and help young and up-coming players avoid some of the pitfalls and traps that he encountered as a player.
If you’re 18 you don’t know anything – and today at 18 you get five million net a year. You buy the world. That’s exactly what you think: ‘I. Can. Buy. The. World.’ I buy friends, I buy girls, I buy cars, I buy everything. I buy love, I buy happiness. That’s what you think. When you’re 18 you don’t care what your parents say, so you need this figure guiding you. I didn’t have that. So many players don’t
Like all of us, Kevin-Prince Boateng is a complex and flawed human being. Unlike a large majority of us, however, he has had to live his life in front of cameras and media with his every move (good and bad) being carefully scrutinised and assessed.
Boateng is a talented footballer who continues to entertain on the pitch, and is trying to make a difference off of it.