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INTERVIEW: Daniel Amartey – The Masked Man of Djurgården [Part II]

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Ing. George-Patrick Bediaku

Osu, Accra | Ghana

 

The news took English and Ghanaian media by storm. But this particular piece of transfer news was peculiar.

The Ghana sports scene had seen several instances where players were rumoured to be moving to big clubs, but would in the end be found out to be a façade. Major indicators of those kinds were that no international news wires would carry it.

But this was different.

“Liverpool line up Daniel Amartey transfer from Sweden's Djurgarden in January” - www.mirror.co.uk

“Liverpool in talks with Ghanaian teenager Amartey who can play in defence and midfield” - www.dailymail.co.uk

“Djurgarden star Daniel Amartey confirms transfer talks with Liverpool” – www.metro.co.uk

“CONFIRMED: Liverpool in talks with Daniel Amartey over January move” – www.dailystar.co.uk

This was looking very positive. But, unfortunately, the move did not materialise. And I wouldn’t blame Brandan Rogers much. I mean, you look at the squad that Liverpool had and the performances they were churning out, they were ‘ok’ even if they didn’t add any more players. But I digress.

What did the man himself make of it all?

“Yeah, it’s true. I was happy when I heard about it. My agent called and told me and I also saw it in the papers in Sweden. We had spoken to some people from Liverpool. All I knew is talks were on-going.”

 

Even though the move did not happen, Amartey is not worried much. He is confident he can make it in the big leagues.

 

Coupled with the cold weather, Amartey suffered a couple of injuries, a couple he had to carry for a long while. I ask him about the cast on his right wrist.

“I felt pain after a tackle one time in a game and when I went to the hospital, the doctor told me I had a fracture of my wrist. I used to feel pain when it was cold or when I fell. So the doctor said I needed surgery.

“But I also did not want to sit out. I wanted to play the league. So the doctor gave me some protection in the form of a bandage and I had my surgery after the season. That’s how I have this on me. I could only start training after two months.”

 

 

Ever wondered what the story behind ‘The Mask’ is? No, not Jim Carey's movie. 'The Mask of Djurgården'.

It was intended to be a means of protecting himself but turned out into something different. It earned him an identity. A ‘cult status’ of sorts, among the Djurgården fans. Let Amartey tell us the story.

“[Laughs] ‘The Mask’. I had a fracture of my skull. I think it was my fourth league game and we were away at Nasiru Mohammed’s BK Hacken. It was in a challenge for the ball that my head clashed with an opponent.

“Another x-ray and I was told I had another fracture. I was told to do a surgery and again, me and my manager said no. The other alternative was that I had to use a face mask and let the bone heal.

“I was supposed to use it for just a month. Initially, it was uncomfortable. But I used it in training for a while so I got used to it. Even though it was for protection, the fans took a liking to it and it became more of an identity.”

 

‘The Mask’ has had to endure a rare, uneasy period of inactivity on the field. On his vacation to Ghana, he isn’t even playing. A directive from the team doctors to help heal his wrist.

“It’s been very cool. Just relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Not too much moving around.”

 

Like every young professional, Amartey also dreams of representing Ghana on the international stage. Even before he does that alongside 10 other Ghanaian players, he and Chibsah rep Ghana hard in every game, sporting an armband in the nation’s bright Red, Gold and Green colours with a Black star.

“I believe I have time to prove myself worthy of a call-up. It’s always an honour to don that jersey. I am definitely doing my best so that, by God’s grace, I will be invited to play for the Black Stars. I will be ready.”

 

Moving to a strange, cold land is difficult. But this lanky, six-foot tall midfielder has his ways of relaxing.

“I usually spend a lot of time with Chibsah. In the summer, most of us go out and catch some sun but apart from that, very little ‘outing’. The weather there is cold so it’s all about getting home from training.”

 

 

His reaction to the following question was one of the brightest parts of the interview. You could see his eyes light up when he spoke. I asked him where his dream destination to play lay.

“My dream is to play in England or France. It has been my fantasy. I just love what I see about those leagues. However, I thank God for wherever I will find myself.”

One thing stays with me from this session. Amartey doesn’t like to say much. (It actually took a lot to get his stories out). But he seemed focused. A strong sense of knowing what he wants. Eyes on the prize. He believes he will make it big. And when that opportunity comes…

Amartey “will be ready”.

 

WATCH: Daniel Amartey’s goal in the Swedish Cup Final

 

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