The British High Commissioner to Ghana speaks of his love for football, West Ham, and friendships with Ghana's top stars
The diplomat, whose tenure in the country expires this year, was speaking with the website of English side West Ham United, his club he supports.
“I’ve become good friends with some of Ghana's best-known national team players, such as Asamoah Gyan, and already knew Andre Ayew well before he joined the Hammers. When he did, some Ghanaians even thought I had personally brokered the deal!" he told www.whufc.com.
Jon Benjamin, who has attained notoriety in the Ghanaian media space for his controversial comments as well as love for football, hailed the country's passion for the game.
“Ghana is a football mad nation which follows the Premier League closely with virtually every game live on cable TV – which often means several games on simultaneously” he continued. “Yes, that's right, you can catch virtually every West Ham game live from a sofa on Accra!
“On one trip back to Ghana last year, Andre brought Ashley Fletcher with him on a Betway promotional trip, and I was fortunate enough to catch up with them for dinner with legendary former captain of Ghana's national team, Stephen Appiah."
The 54-year-old, who has been in the diplomatic field for the last 30 years, also spoke of his love for West Ham, for whom he has founded a Ghana fan club called "GH Hammers".
“I have supported West Ham all my life, given my family’s East End origins, first watching games at Upton Park in the early 1970s,” he began. “I particularly remember a 4-3 win over Everton in 1974 and was at our FA Cup final win over Arsenal in 1980. Back then, my favourites were of course Brooking, Bonds and Devonshire.”
Jon Benjamin was posted to Ghana in 2014.
“In Ghana, I oversee a High Commission of nearly 200 staff, of whom about 75 per cent are Ghanaians, representing 12 different departments of Her Majesty's Government. My tasks include overseeing bilateral political, trade, aid, cultural, defence, law enforcement and immigration relations, and a lot of media work," he explained of his work in Ghana.
“I am also in touch with the UK’s vibrant Ghanaian community too: there are at least a quarter of a million Brits who claim Ghanaian heritage, including the actor Idris Elba, the fashion designer Ozwald Boateng, TV personality June Sarpong and footballer Danny Welbeck.”
He is also the non-resident British Ambassador to Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, having previously been the Ambassador to Chile.