A graduate of the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana, who was named as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the U-20 African Youth Championship (AYC) in Senegal in 2015, but before the tournament, Yeboah earned a move to Manchester City from Right to Dream and was included in the team that won bronze for Ghana in Senegal and also got nominated as the African Youth Player of 2015 by CAF.
He was one of the star performers for Ghana at the U-20 World Cup and scored the team’s first goal in the tournament against Argentina. He earned a loan move to French giants LOSC Lille in late 2015.
Born in a village in the Western Region of Ghana, Yaw Yeboah hails from Sefwi a small village which lacks basic amenities like potable drinking water, good roads and electricity.
Yeboah stands at a height of 175 cm and weighs 70 kilograms, dominant left footed player. Yaw is a creative midfielder who can play on the flanks or in the center of the field and has an eye for a great passes and spectacular assists but can also fit-in at left back.
Stak Sottie caught up with Yaw Yeboah at the Ghanaman Soccer Center of Excellence in Prampram-Ghana where he spoke to him about his family, his desire to play football which was threatened by his father, a Pastor and a Headmaster of a basic school in Sefwi but later gave in, how he got into the Right to Dream Academy, his favorite food, his plan for the people of his village and the future of his football career and the desire to feature for the senior national team the Black Stars.
Below is the full text of the conversation we hard with YAW YEBOAH who was adjudged the best player of the 2015 AYC.
Ghanafans.com: Yaw Yeboah tell me about your family and your early ages in the village?
Yaw: I was born into a nuclear family of ten excluding my parents, am the fifth born of ten children. I have four other male siblings and five female siblings. Born in a village with no light and portable water, we don’t have opportunity to watch television so we are always on the park playing football or going to the farm. I started my basic school at Atiango D/C Primary School where my dad was the Headmaster.
With my desire to play football and because I was a good player, I was part of the school team but not playing any team before a surprise migration to Duayaw-Nkwanta in the Brong Ahafo Region with my brother where I was scouted by the Right to Dream Academy in the basic school inter-districts football championship. After the regional tournament at El-Wak in Accra, I joined the Academy in Dawu and that’s how everything started for me as footballer.
Ghanafans.com: At Right to Dream Academy, how was the living like and which people was your mates and your coach?
Yaw: Life at Right to Dream was not all that easy, because as a young boy at age 12 living so many kilometers away from your parents and waking up at 5am prepare for school and after school, straight unto the pitch, it was not a joke. I remember one of the meals that we ate back then, rice and tomato sauce. Here is a village boy who have not had the opportunity to eat such food, and all of a sudden it has turn to be your daily meal, it was difficult for me but as time went by I did cope and adapted to it.
The current Satellites coach Masud Didi Dramani was our coach before he was replaced by C.K Akonnor after he joined Asante Kotoko. Kingsley Fobi, Enoch Adu, Evans Mensah, Divine Naah, Emmanuel Ntim were some players of my generations.
Ghanafans.com: How did you appear at former English Premier League champions Manchester City?
Yaw: You know what, back at Right to Dream I was the last player selected after the three months trails and was playing from the left back. So was a defender by then in one of our games at the academy, our left winger was not available and coach Didi asked me to play on the flanks and took my chance that’s how I got back into my original position. I think in 2014, we went to play some tournaments in Europe and City scouts picked me but I was not able to sign for them because I was not eighteen by then. So every three months, I go back to Manchester to train with them and in 2015 they signed me but went on loan at Lille in the Ligue 1 after the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Ghanafans.com: Whiles training with the Manchester City junior side, did you had the chance to train with the first team and how was it like back in England?
Yaw: Well, as you know I was with the junior team but I had couple of chances to train with the first team and even got the opportunity play in their training matches and one of those was when I played against Leonel Messi and after the game, he told Tevez and DiMaria that I play like him and he gave me some advice and since then he has become my role model.
You see, training with the likes of David Silva, Kompany, Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and co, you turn to learn more things and if you are a serious person that want to get some kind of pedigree in your career, you have to learn very fast, pray, be patient and ready at any time and that’s what I was doing at Manchester City.
Ghanafans.com: Yaw in terms of the national team, how were you invited to join the team before the 2015 African Youth Championship?
Yaw: Well for the national team, I started playing for the U-17 (Black Starlets) when I was in Right to Dream. I was part of the team in Tunisia at the African U-17 tournament that were beaten 6-1 by Egypt. I remember I came from the bench and scored the only goal for Ghana but were not able to qualify for the world cup.
After the U-17 tournament, I went back to the academy before I started training with City and got a call-up for the African Youth Championship in Senegal where we won bronze and personally won the best player of the tournament. With the U-20 team, I had no difficult socializing with them because almost 70 percent of that squad came out from the previous U-17 team.
Ghanafans.com: How disappointed were you back in 2015 for not winning the African Youth Championship and also going out at the round 16th stage of the World Cup in New Zealand?
Yaw: I must say we as a team were very disappointed for not getting to the finals of that particular tournament, I was very sad for myself but when my name was mentioned as the best player of the tournament, I said to myself that maybe God is doing something that I have no idea of. Then I remember my people back in my village in Ghana, that how will they feel for me, from a village boy to an African best player of the tournament and that made me pick myself up even though we were not able to win the ultimate.
For the World Cup, I broke down for two days because I don’t understand how a team that we had beaten earlier in the year will send us packing out from the tournament but such is life, you will not be the winner everyday so you have to learn how to accept defeats and learn from it and that will help you get stronger.
Ghanafans.com: How was the season at Lille for you?
Yaw: I must say by the Grace of God it went well because I was not expecting to play with the first team in my first season. The plan from Manchester City was for me to play with the junior side of Lille then in my second loan season I will move to the senior team and try to get some appearances. After joining the team, the coach by then was Herve Renard and because of my abilities and hard work, he promoted me into the first team and I was registered for the 2015/2016 season where I made my debut against Olympic Marsaille on the 25th October 2015 at home which the coach told me that I did well after the game.
Ghanafans.com: What game would you say was the difficult game for you at Lille OSC?
Yaw: Hmmmm, the most difficult game was against NICE when we went away. Hatem Ben Arfa was just running all over the pitch and making it difficult for me to get some of the ball but it was a nice experience playing against such a talent. I would say that it was the most difficult game I had play so far since I joined Lille OSC in the Ligue 1.
Ghanafans.com: Now what is the future ahead of Yaw Yeboah?
Yaw: Okay after the season when I was coming to Ghana, my air ticket was paid by Manchester City and the sporting director told me we have a new coach in the person of Pep Guardiola and he needs me for their training tour so I should start planning when I get home. According to him, he says Pep said he would like to meet me so after my holidays, I should join them for the preseason.
For me as a young player, even though it seems the new coach likes me, I won’t force to stay at a club which I would not get more playing time, I will like to go somewhere I can play regularly because the more you sit in the dugout, the more you get rusty. If Pep Guardiola wants me, that’s good but I have to ask whether I will get playing time under him before considering anything else.
Ghanafans.com: We’ve seen one of your team mates Samuel Tetteh in the Black Stars squad, have you been contacted by Avram Grant?
Yaw: Sure, I remember him sending me a text whiles I was in France telling me that he is looking at me so I should continue working hard to get more playing time and since then I have the believe that in no time, I will be part of the senior national team.
Ghanafans.com: Can you tell us your dream team you would like to play before hanging your boots and also who is your favorite footballer in the world?
Yaw: For my favorite footballer, I will say that it’s Lionel Messi and it’s not that because I have met him but it’s about the talent he have and how he plays the game. About my dream team, growing up in the village, my dad supports Asante Kotoko and almost every other person do supports Kotoko excerpt one of my brothers who supports Hearts of Oak. So I will say Kotoko and Manchester United because my first football jersey I wore was a Manchester United jersey which if I remember was number 16 Michael Carrick and also because I love red stuffs.
Ghanafans.com: I would like you to give us your best eleven Black Stars players since you started watching them play?
Yaw: Awwww, this is a bit difficult question but I would try my best for you.
Richard Kingston, Harrison Afful, Isaac Vorsah, Jonathan Mensah, Baba Rahman, Derek Boateng, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Andre Ayew, Christian Astu, Kwadwo Asamoah and Asamoah Gyan. That will be my tem with Avram Grant as my coach.
Ghanafans.com: What don’t you like as a person?
Yaw: I hate lying tongues. I dislike people who don’t speak the truth because if you are my agent or someone working with me, you must be diligent in your dealings so I can do my part of the work on the field.
Ghanafans.com: What do you do when you are not playing football?
Yaw: When am not playing, most of the time am home resting or just go out with my friends or siblings to have dinner and come back. You see because my dad is a Pastor, I don’t have to do things that will bring my name or his name to disrepute.