There are not many more exciting young talents in the Ghanaian Premier League than Ropapa Mensah. The 18-year –old striker, who plays for Tema based Inter Allies usually plays as an arrow head and occasionally operates from the flanks, is quick, tricky and intelligent, while he also possesses a powerful shot from distance and the capacity to take on opposing defenders by either cutting in-field or driving down the touch line. His expert reading of the game, physical strength and ability to find the back of the net makes him an exciting prospect. As a striker, he has an outstanding work rate, sublime technical skills and a terrific range of passing.
Like many great footballers, Ropapa’s talent developed on the street with countless hours of joyful play and practice. A skinny, lively little Ropapa was always seen kicking a ball around on pavements of streets of Cape Coast. The quickness of mind and foot; the agility and perfect balance and taut which characterises his play now was actually visible in his early years.
“I really love football. Everything about it excites me. I remember how I used to play football with my friends on the streets of Cape Coast; how I always skip classes and feigned illness just to play with my friends, it was fun.” He told ghanafans.com
Early in his football career, personal problems pushed him to the brink of quitting but with a faith of a prophet and nerves of steel, he soldiered on. Ghanaians will one day be grateful that he decided to carry on because he is highly tipped to be star Striker Asamoah Gyan’s heir.
Ropapa had his breakthrough while playing for Cape Coast Strikers where his immense talent and proclivity earned him a place in the National U-23(Black Meteors) team of Ghana despite his young age. His splendid displays for the Black Meteors caught the eagle eye of the technical handlers of Inter Allies who quickly moved in to secure his services on loan last season. In that season, Ropapa scored 2 with 7 assists.
“My first season with Inter Allies was amazing. I joined the club during the second round and without any premiership experience; I was able to stamp my mark. I scored 2 with 7 assists. I believe that wasn’t bad for an amateur like me considering the physicality of the league.” He gushed.
His showings for the Tema based club propelled the authorities of the club to make his loan move permanent. The season hasn’t been the best for Inter Allies. The club sits on the bottom half of the league table with Ropapa scoring only 2 goals with 4 assists but the chirpy striker believes they can turn things around in the second half of the season.
“I believe we have what it takes to change the situation in the second half of the season.” It’s not late to make things happen. We can if we all muck in. It is not beyond our reach. We must be hungry and purpose in our minds to improve every day. If we don’t have this mentality, it will be difficult to overturn the situation and bring smiles back to faces of our superiors and teeming fans.” He confidently said.
That ethic and drive to learn is something he hopes his team-mates can replicate. “I try to help, to do my best. To live up to my status on the pitch and away from it, we need to manage problems in the right way. Once a solution is quickly found, improvement follows.”
Ropapa is currently a member of the Black Satellites (U-20). He missed out on the team’s double header against Ethiopia in the qualifiers of the African Championship to be held in Zambia next year but has featured in two friendlies and scoring one. Unperturbed by his exclusion, Ropapa is optimistic of making it into the team soon. “I missed out on the games against Ethiopia but that does not mean I am out of the team- I’m on a learning curve and hope to up my game to win back the trust of the Coach and gain entry into the team again.”
Unlike many young footballers, Ropapa idolises Black Stars captain and striker Asamoah Gyan who has scored 48 goals in over 90 appearances for the Black Stars and is officially believed to be the all time top scorer for the nation. According to the teenage sensation, he look up to the Ghanaian legend and hopes emulate his footsteps to carve a niche for himself in association football.
”Gyan is my idol. I really want to be like him. A lot of people say my style of play is reminiscent of his and that excites me a lot. He has gone through strings of frustrating injuries and difficult times in his career but as soon as he makes his return to the pitch, he reminds everyone of his quality. I think he is one of the best in his generation.” “I love watching him play and also watches footages of his exploits on the internet. Anytime I watch him play, I’m challenged to continue improving.” Such is Ropapa’s thirst for knowledge that he also seeks out his predecessors.
Ropapa’s ability is not in doubt, and he will now be keen to impress both on the local and international stage as he seeks to emulate the good works of his mentor Asamoah Gyan and etch his name in football folklore. His persistence and tenacity of purpose will certainly get him there.