The young Ghanaian striker had just scored both goals as Rayon Sports beat Sunrise FC 2-1 away from home. This came after Sarpong previously netted in the club’s 2-1 home loss to Mukura FC on the opening day of the season.

Two games, three goals: the 23-year-old announced himself to the Rwandan league in emphatic fashion! Fast-forward, the former Dreams FC forward is currently the top-scorer in the Rwandan Premier League and continues to dominate the division week-in, week-out.

In 15 games, he has impressively scored 11 goals and contributed a further nine assists in all competitions. Although Sarpong’s rise has been meteoric, it doesn’t come as a surprise to those who know his roots.

Michael Sarpong has been scoring for fun in the Rwandan topflight

The young striker grew up in Mamprobi, a suburb of Accra, and played on the grassless Indafa Park at colts’ level. When Sarpong began his training with Gaddafi FC, then managed by one Coach Habib, he saw it more as a hobby rather than a means to a professional career.

But just like Ghanaian greats Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah, who were spotted at this same Indafa Park during their formative years, young Sarpong’s journey was about to tow a similar trajectory.

Things, however, became tougher as he had to juggle football with education – Sarpong was schooling at the Holy Trinity Senior High School. He initially wanted to become an architect, but with time he began to like football more. He later loved the sport and, under the guidance of Coach Habib, he began dreaming of carving a professional career.

“My childhood dream was to be an architect. [It’s] funny how when you’re young you want to do a lot of things when you grow up, but life will certainly end you at where you really deserve,” Sarpong lets out a wry smile as he recounts his beginnings in an exclusive interview with Pulse Ghana.

“My football journey began when a coach spotted me during a school team competition in my Senior High School days and made me join a colts team in my neighborhood. That was where everything started.”

Michael Sarpong in training with his teammates

Having played football at colts level since age five, Sarpong began to trust in his abilities. If the constant pats from his coaches were not enough to convince him of how talented he was, his excellence in inter-school competitions ultimately became what drew his mind to it.

“I started playing soccer at a very tender age and I used to feature in the school team and other competitions. I won a lot of hearts because I was so small, yet so good,” he recalls.

The idea of playing professional football was initially not welcomed by Sarpong’s parents, but with Ghana Premier League clubs queuing for the teenager’s signature, they had no choice than to support and respect their son’s dream.

“Initially my family wasn’t sure if I was making the right career choice. But as my passion for football increased and, gracefully, I was signed to a team, they have fully supported me till date,” he adds.

Sarpong’s breakthrough finally came when he joined Ghana Premier League side Liberty Professionals. Officials of the Dansoman-based club had barely watched the teen striker for 90 minutes in a colts game when they signed him.

Michael Sarpong in action for Rayon Sports

Famed for nurturing some of Ghana’s most celebrated footballers – including Asamoah Gyan, Derrick Boateng and Sulley Muntari – the Liberty academy proved to be a good ground for Sarpong’s development.

He spent three years at Liberty, before joining Dreams FC in the summer of 2017. Although he was not a favorite in the Ghana Premier League, his exploits were enough to catch the attention of Rayon Sports.

Sarpong joined the Rwandan side in September 2018 and has since not looked back. The 23-year-old is enjoying his most productive season in terms of goals.

“This season is my best season so far because I see a lot of improvements in my everyday games," he says. With 11 goals and nine assists to his name, the lanky striker is already a contender for the player of the season award in the Rwandan topflight.

The Ghanaian striker celebrates one of his goals (RwandaMagazine.com

Such is his dominance in the Rwandan league that he frequently makes the headlines in almost all of the sports papers in the Central African nation.

Sarpong admits he sometimes misses home, but says he has settled well in Kigali and is bent on working hard in order to ensure he maintains his status as the deadliest striker in the Rwandan topflight.

Currently, Rayon Sports sit second on the Rwandan Premier League table – two points shy of leaders APR – as the club aims to win its ninth league title.

“There’s no better place like home, playing in Ghana you have your childhood friends coming to the stadium to watch you and all that. But outside Ghana, your family members and friends are not around to cheer you up but rather waiting to hear the good things you are doing out there.

“You, therefore, need to play above your strength to make headlines week in and week out, because a lot is expected from you when playing outside your country,” Sarpong observes.

RwandaMagazine.com

While the 23-year-old is keen to do well in Rwanda, he also has high hopes of playing in Europe and for the Ghanaian national team.

“Thankfully, God has really been good to me since I joined Rayon Sports, I’ve really had a good journey out here, my hard work has made me become one of the vital players in the club. 

“I’m ever ready to represent my country at any level right now. It will be such a great pride to wear the [Ghana] jersey and make our motherland proud. I am working hard to earn a spot on the national team. I’m looking forward to that,” Sarpong articulates.

The young striker is currently enjoying his time at Rayon Sports, but dreams of soon catching the eyes of one of Europe’s elite clubs.

“I’ve been able to win the hearts of many and I thank my team players and management for bringing out the best in me so far,” he says. “Basically, Rwanda has quality sports facilities and fans support their clubs in their numbers during every match. My plans for the future is to play for one of the biggest club in the world and be an inspiration for the youth.”

From playing on the grassless pitches of Indafa Park, Sarpong is now one of the most adored players on the streets on Kigali.

Even more impressive is the fact that the 23-year-old is still hungry to take his football career to the next level.

“I idolise Stephen Appiah and Thierry Henry; their playing careers inspire me,” he discloses. Sarpong may be far from the level of both Appiah and Henry, but he has proven to be a goal-machine and the young striker’s dominance in the Rwandan league only points to the fact that he is destined for greater things.

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