On a team bus with his former teammates at FC St. Pauli to a game, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh was scrolling online to check out some vintage jerseys of the Ghana Black Stars.
Dream-Believe-Achieve: The story of Kofi Kyereh
2022 FIFA World Cup: From a small village in Germany to the FIFA World Cup with Ghana, this is the story of Daniel-Kofi Kyereh.
It was a few months before the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. His main goal was to find all the needed elements in time for him, his family and friends who mostly went to public viewing to support the Black Stars.
He purchased 17 vintage Ghana jerseys in different sizes for his family and friends. In his mind, it was going to be the usual get-together with family and friends to support the national team. There was something bigger waiting, a dream was about to be realised but Kofi Kyereh had no idea.
Later in the day when the team had arrived at their hotel, Kofi received a call during dinner time with his teammates. There was one rule during dinner at FC St. Pauli - no phones out at the dinner table.
Kofi took a peek at his phone to see who was calling as it could be an emergency and saw a +233. Nothing about football crossed his mind. To him, it was probably a family member from Ghana calling. He left his dinner table and went out of the room to call back the number.
To his surprise, former Black Stars coach Charles Kwabla Akonnor was on the other side of the call line.
“He (CK Akonnor) introduced himself and I was like, I know exactly who you are,” Daniel-Kofi Kyereh told Pulse in an exclusive interview ahead of the FIFA World Cup tournament.
“So he told me he wanted to invite me for the national team and asked if I was interested. The first sentence I said to him was, I have waited my whole life for this call. Then he said that’s amazing. This moment he always remembered because even after playing for the national team, he always mentioned those words I said to him,” Kofi disclosed.
Those words were not ones Kofi just came up with during his invitation call with CK Akonnor. These were words from the talent, passion and dedication he had for football since childhood.
Growing up in Braunschweig, a small village in Germany Daniel-Kofi Kyereh started playing football and was also involved in athletics. Those were his passions. He enjoyed doing both and was having fun as a kid. With his mum having to take him to practices for both sports, the back and forth was taking a toll on schedules. So, Kofi’s mum asked him to decide which one he loved more so the focus would be on one sport.
“I said I like football more,” Kofi Kyereh told Pulse.
Kofi’s choice of football was instinctive as football moments popped up in all his activities even if he wasn’t being intentional about it. He likes to have fun with everything he is involved in, a trait seen in his technique on the pitch as a professional footballer. The freedom he has picking passes, making runs and moves are lovely to watch from a player who is passionate about his craft.
One of those fun moments as a kid was playing basketball with his friends including Dennis Schröder in Braunschweig. During those basketball games, Kofi would end up trying to kick the ball with his feet into the rim.
“Everyone knew this is Kofi, the footballer,” he said.
“No matter what I was doing, I had football in my head. It was always all about football. Since then, I went step by step. I went to bigger clubs but I always wanted to have fun. I told my mum I wanted to go where I can be free and have fun playing.
“I stayed in my hometown in Braunschweig and went from SC Gitter to Eintracht Braunschweig and then there came a time where people saw I could play professional football.
“He’s not only talented but has the skills to become a pro footballer (they said). For me, it was all about fun. Then I went to VfL Wolfsburg, the youth side and from there, the mission started to become a professional football player.”
Although there was the element of fun in Kofi’s career, the journey had its challenges. He had to believe and trust the process, lean on the support from family and friends to make it.
“It wasn’t the straight(forward) way. It took me longer than others to come into the first league,” Kofi Kyereh recalled in his interview with Pulse.
“But I always believed in myself and I always got the support from my family and friends who also pushed me forward. I’m not done yet.”
The belief Kofi Kyereh has came from a point of self inspiration but also looking to others to improve on his skills and knowledge of the game. As a child he would always remind his mother not to forget the ball irrespective of where they were going. Even at that young age, the Ghanaian player knew practice made perfect. He was also learning the game from afar with players he could look up to. He had no favourites with older Ghanaian footballers he grew up watching. When he had the chance, he tried to copy everything he could learn from all of the players he watched.
However, his favourite footballer of all time is Neymar da Silva Santos Junior. Kofi was 12 years old when he first saw Neymar play and that was love for Neymar's football at first sight.
“It was the style and enjoyment watching him play that I loved about him,” Daniel-Kofi Kyereh said in his interview with Pulse.
“Since then, I always checked on YouTube for new skill videos of him playing football. I will get my ball and meet with friends or alone to learn the dribbling skills he did in the videos.
“Back then, nobody knew him like now. I told my close friends about him and seeing his career now is an inspiration.
“My dream was to meet him one day, play with him or against him. My family wished for me to meet him one day. They wanted to buy a ticket for his game so I could see him play. I told them I didn't want to see him play from afar. I want to meet him on the pitch. That dream came true when we played against Brazil in a friendly match. Now I want to face Brazil and Neymar again at the World Cup and have the chance to get our revenge because I know we can beat them.”
The Black Stars of Ghana are in Group H of the FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar where Kofi Kyereh made the 26-man squad for the West African nation. In the group, the team will play Portugal, South Korea and a final group game with Uruguay, a national team Ghana has history with from the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament in South Africa.
If coach Otto Addo’s team qualify from Group H, they are likely to meet Brazil, who are in Group G Cameroon, Serbia and Switzerland - a team Ghana beat in their last friendly ahead of their opening game in Qatar 2022.
Kofi Kyereh played in the game against Switzerland. That was his 15th appearance for the Black Stars of Ghana. Kyereh made his debut for Ghana’s national team on September 3, 2021 against Ethiopia in the FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
Since then, he went on to play against Zimbabwe and South Africa in the qualifiers. Kyereh was in Ghana’s national team for the Africa Cup of Nations where he played in the 1-0 defeat against Morocco, draw against Gabon and the 3-2 defeat against underdogs Comoros to exit the competition from the group stage. The midfielder then played in the crucial tiers against Nigeria in the FIFA World Cup playoffs before featuring for his national team against Madagascar, Central Africa, Brazil, Nicaragua and Switzerland.
In all the 15 games for Ghana, Kofi seems to be enjoying himself. Aside from the many comments on his looks as a ‘fresh boy’ in the team, the midfielder has also been lauded by Ghanaians on the technicalities of his game. He is a man who compliments Ghana’s midfield with flair and finesse, having an eye for attack and taking the game to the opponent with confidence and the sheer zeal that come with top midfielders in the game.
He has not had his first goal for Ghana yet, but just like the fun side he shows on his social media channels, Kofi is enjoying the opportunity to serve his country Ghana. The midfielder already loves the time he spends around teammates who compliment his fun energy as and when they meet in camp.
“Gideon Mensah is always funny and got jokes. If you are around him, you always laugh and he can make jokes in different languages that are crazy fun,” Daniel-Kofi Kyereh told Pulse about entertainers at Black Stars camp.
“Thomas Partey is also a very funny guy. Abdul Fatawu is the best dancer and I think in the history of Ghana after Asamoah Gyan, he’s the next best dancer in the squad. Definitely Wakaso (is an entertainer in the team) because he makes us laugh every time he has the chance to with his energy.
“But the whole team (members) are entertainers. It’s never boring because there is always a good vibe and positive energy when you are around our team.”
This is the same vibe and positive energy Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is taking into the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The SC Freiburg player is looking to give his best to the national team, enjoy every moment and make Ghana proud.
“My expectations (for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar) are positive,” Kofi Kyereh told Pulse in the interview.
“I’m going there to be free and give my best. We will go there with the best energy. We will try to enjoy every minute to make our country proud. It will be a very good tournament for us,” he assured.
From a small village in Germany to a FIFA World Cup stage for Ghana in Qatar, Kofi Kyereh is already living a dream to play for Ghana Black Stars. But since he achieved the dream, he has realised there is more to it than he expected. The love has been immense from all corners of Ghana and Germany, he is grateful for the experience and has an even bigger hunger to achieve as much as possible for the Black Stars of Ghana.
“I appreciate the support of every single Ghanaian. I see all the support on social media and the love I get when I’m there in Ghana and even when I’m not there. I’m grateful and love you all,” he said.
Dreams are meant to be lived and Daniel-Kofi Kyereh is living his and having fun just like he was with football from childhood. But there will be goals. There will be targets. One of the big ones Kofi has set his eyes on is the World Cup. Ghana’s mission at the 2022 FIFA World Cup starts with mini challenges against Portugal, South Korea and Uruguay before the next set of challenges are put before the Black Stars.
The dream is not just an appearance on the biggest stage of international football for the Ghanaian midfielder.
For Kofi, his ultimate dream for the Black Stars in the tournament is “to bring the World Cup trophy home to our motherland Ghana”.
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