I have heard the term “Re-launching” many times in the Ghanaian football circles and have been wondering if other professionals like front line health workers, journalists, etc can just not take their carrier seriously and when they are out of the system they come back to re-launch it?
It is amazing to see opportunities football gives to players during their playing days to come back at any time and lift your performance and be back in business.
Re-launching can also be termed as revitalization or revival of something. Being a professional footballer is not easy and it has never been easier. The pressure of performing week in week out can take a toll on the best in the business and result in dry spells of poor form, which ultimately results in having a barren spell and getting stuck in a rut. Few footballers overcome this situation by working hard, whilst others try their luck in a different scenario by making a move in the transfer window.
Reviving one’s career is easier said than done. It is typically very talented and gifted players who show their class before falling away but ultimately getting back to the top once again.
Even very gifted players often fail to revive their careers though; Ravel Ryan Morrison the English professional footballer who plays for Championship club Middlesbrough, is on loan from Premier League side Sheffield United, Adel Taarabt, the Moroccan professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder for Portuguese club Benfica and Mario Kofi Barwuah Balotelli, the Italian professional footballer who plays for Serie A club Brescia Calcio. These are three enormously talented players who have all made moves (or multiple moves) yet failed to revive their careers in recent years.
Many players have one way or the other marvellous abilitie(s). Their catastrophic downturn in fortunes and fall in stock was never a result of their ability, but typically either a failed transfer which did not suit them or a poor attitude/mentality. Let’s see the real situation of some footballers who once plied their trade in Europe and one way or the other tried to breathe fresh air into their career when things became tough; was it successful or a failure?
Only Cristiano Ronaldo scored more goals than Emmanuel Adebayor in the 2007/08 Premier League season. He made a big-money move to Manchester City in 2009 though, and in his second season at the Etihad Stadium, he found opportunities hard to come by. He was loaned to Real Madrid where he scored 5 league goals and the Togolese striker’s stock seemed to be falling, yet the following season he scored 18 goals for Tottenham Hotspurs, the second best tally of his career. The 32-year-old fell away again once more and spent a season as a peripheral figure at Crystal Palace where he made 12 appearances with only one goal. He then moved to Istanbul Basaksehir scoring 24 in 60 games after 3 years.
A very technically gifted attacking midfielder, unlike many of the listed players, there are a few surprises when Shinji Kagawa revived his career in his second spell at Borussia Dortmund. The Japanese international first joined Dortmund in 2010, and after two very impressive seasons he was signed by Manchester United. While he wasn’t poor in his two seasons at the Old Trafford, he didn’t have the impact the club would have liked, and in 2014 he returned to the club where he won two Bundesliga titles.
Kagawa in his first spell at Dortmund 21 goals in 49 games after 2 seasons. In his second spell at the club, 2014-2019 (5 seasons) he scored 20 goals in 99 games.
Regarded among the greatest Romanian footballers of all-time, Adrian Mutu had an excellent 2002/03 season, earning himself a big move to Chelsea. He had a torrid time in London. His form was poor, scoring just 6 goals in 27 games, but worse still was a seven-month ban and cancelled the contract after he failed a drug test for cocaine use in 2004. He couldn’t find his shooting boots at Juventus either, and was in need of a career revival at Fiorentina in 2006. He got just that. The Romanian spent the next five years in Florence, scoring 54 goals in 112 games.
The Mexican goal-getter Javier Hernandez was always a crowd favourite at the Old Trafford but fell out of favour with boss Sir Alex Ferguson after his first few seasons at the club. Chicharito, as he is often better known, joined Man Utd after an impressive 2010 World Cup. He then became a super-sub for the Premier League giants before dropping down the pecking order. In his last full season at Man Utd, he scored just 4 goals before joining Bayer Leverkusen, where he breathed new life into his career, scoring 26 goals in all competitions in his debut season in Germany.
Blessed with skill, awareness and vision which most players could only dream of, Antonio Cassano had all the tools to become one of the finest players of his generation. At Roma in his early twenties, he looked on course to do just that, but an ill-thought out move to Real Madrid in 2006 cost his career Under the disciplinarian Fabio Capello, Cassano’s creativity was stifled, and his poor attitude became abundantly clear. He quickly returned to Italy and somewhat revived his career with Sampdoria, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Parma, although he still never hit the heights many believe he was truly capable of.
During his AS Roma days, he scored 39 goals in 118 games before moving to Real Madrid but couldn’t maintain his form, as he scored only 2 goals in 19 games. In an attempt to revive his career, it took him 3 seasons at Sampdoria to score 25 goals in 75 games. He then went to Inter Milan and then Parma but couldn’t find his form.
Cassano decided to try a relaunch at Sampdoria, his former team, but failed after 24 games with just 2 goals.
One of the most naturally gifted forwards of his generation, Nicolas Anelka scored an impressive 23 goals in 65 games for Arsenal between the ages of 18 and 20, before heading to Real Madrid. Opportunities were hard to come by at the Bernabeu and when they did arrive, Anelka didn’t take them. He scored just 2 goals in 19 games in a single season with Real, before returning to boyhood club PSG. In the French capital, Anelka was able to get his career back on track, and despite becoming something of a journeyman, he had an exceptional career, winning 13 trophies and scoring more than 200 goals. He excelled also at Manchester City, Fenerbahce, Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea.
The former England youth international Matthew Etherington showed great potentials at West Ham in his early twenties, winning the clubs Player of the Year Award in 2004 at the age of 23. Between 2007 and 2009 the winger lost his place in the side under manager Gianfranco Zola and joined Stoke City, where he revived his career in a big way, winning the second Player of the Year award of his career, this time for the Potters in 2010. Sadly injuries got the better of Etherington who retired from football at aged 32.
In his early twenties at Lille, Gervinho was regarded as one of the most exciting prospects within the game. A record of 28 goals in 67 games showed that Gervinho was a rare example of a winger with pace twinned with excellent end product. It was no surprise when the likes of PSG and Atletico Madrid tried to sign him in 2011, but it was Arsenal that snapped up the Ivorian. In two years he was largely uninspiring, scoring just 9 league goals. He left for Roma where his career experienced a renaissance, brought to an end with a big-money move to China.
Lukas Podolski has arguably revived his career twice. Despite being the epitome of consistency for the German national team, his club form has fluctuated over his career. Having looked world class at Koln, with a record better than a goal every other game, he was snapped up by Bayern Munich. He struggled in Bavaria though, scoring only 15 league goals in 3 years, and returned to Koln in 2009 where he impressed once more. His next to moves to Arsenal and Inter Milan proved unsuccessful though, but Podolski has revived his career once more in Turkey with Galatasaray where he scored 20 goals in 56 games
The extraordinary thing about the revival of Luca Toni’s career was the age in which he did it. The Italian legend was late bloomer, not playing top flight football until the age of 23 and dropping back down to the second tier at 26. However, he ultimately showed himself to be a class act, starring for the likes of Fiorentina and Bayern Munich. The goals dried up as Toni hit 31 though. In three years, he scored only 21 league goals, those figures including a spell in the UAE. At the age of 36, Toni revived his career in a big way though, scoring 44 goals in the next two seasons for Verona, even finishing as Serie A’s joint-top scorer.
Gianfranco Zola was obviously an extremely gifted footballer, but many were questioning whether the perennially smiling little Italians talents had diminished in his mid 30s, as his form between 1999 and 2002 tailed off. After the 2001/02 season, aged 36, many felt Zola’s time in the top flight was over. Yet the next season was up there with the finest of his career, as he scored 16 goals from midfield and won Chelsea’s Player of the Year. It was his parting gift to the Blues supporters, as Zola left for Cagliari that summer.
A Ballon d’Or winner and one of the finest goal scorers of his generation, Jean-Pierre Papin scored a total of 303 goals in 542 games over his career, most notably for Marseille. Papin also had great success at AC Milan, before joining Bayern Munich. It was with Bayern that Papin fell away, scoring just 3 goals in 27 league games over two seasons. The following year he revived his career late on at Bordeaux, scoring 16 goals in 32 games.
It should come as no surprise that there are a few former Real Madrid players on this list, and Wesley Sneijder is another who falls into that category. The former Dutch Young Player of the Year joined Real after an incredible season at Ajax in 2007, but after two difficult years in the Spanish capital, in which the club recruited heavily, Sneijder joined Inter Milan. His first season at Inter was a historic one and a revival of epic proportions, as he scored 8 goals, made 16 assists and won the treble, being named the UEFA Midfielder of the Season and finishing a harsh fourth in the Ballon d’Or that year.
Diego Forlan was a star both before and after his time at Manchester United, but struggled with the Red Devils in the Premier League. He arrived as a hot prospect from Independiente, but scored just 10 league goals in four seasons at Old Trafford before leaving for Villarreal. The most capped Uruguayan of all time revived his career in Spain, first with Villarreal and later with Atletico Madrid. Forlan was named the best player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Chelsea’s Young Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, the only player to have received the award more than once, Huth was always highly regarded at the Bridge, with Mourinho even turning down approach’s from Bayern Munich when he had the likes of Terry, Carvalho and Gallas already within his ranks. After leaving the Bridge, Huth became a key player at Stoke City, winning the clubs Player of the Year award in 2011, but his career seemed to be tailing away as he was benched for the 2013/14 season.
The following year he joined Leicester, where he did more than just reviving his career. Part of their ‘great escape’ in his first season and a title winner in his second, Huth was one of the best defenders in the Premier League that season.
The former Bayern Munich poacher went from prolific to poor around 2012, first losing his place in the Bayern team, followed by a transfer to Fiorentina, two years of poor form at Fiorentina and a move to Turkey with Besiktas on loan. At Besiktas, he scored 26 goals in 33 games winning both the league and golden boot and giving him a real shout of leading Germany’s line in France that summer.
Once touted as the ‘new Makelele’, Lassana Diarra thrived on being an effective defensive midfielder, and by the age of 25 he could boast the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid among his employers, with a trophy cabinet which included the FA Cup, La Liga and more. A tough last two seasons at the Bernabeu was followed by a two year spell in Russia, with Anzhi and Lokomotiv Moscow, which ended with his contract being terminated.
Diarra needed a revival and he got the chance, showing his true class for Marseille. He made the 2015/16 Ligue 1 Team of the Season and his form was so good that he even forced his way back into the France squad but he sadly had to pull out of the tournament due to injury.
Fans of only the Premier League could be forgiven for thinking Claudio Pizarro was a distinctly average player. His time at Chelsea was by far the worst of his career. Having scored prolifically in Germany with Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich, the Peruvian forward joined Chelsea in 2007. He scored just 2 league goals 21 games in his first season, and was loaned to former club Werder Bremen, where he quickly got back on tracks, scoring 17 goals in 26 games which got him a second spell at Bayern
Esteban Cambiasso began playing first team football in Argentina at the age of 18, and his talent was immediately recognised. At 20 he made his debut for Argentina and a year later he joined River Plate. When he signed for Real Madrid in 2002, there were few finer midfield prospects in the world. But Cambiasso, like so many great players, became a victim of the ‘Bernabeu bite’
He had two difficult years in Real before being released. His career needed a revival, and he did revive it at Inter Milan. He won the double in his first season and went on to play 420 games for the club over a 9 year spell, winning a total of 15 trophies, including a historic treble in 2010.
One of the finest examples of a player reviving their career in recent history, both Hatem Ben-Arfa’s fall and rise were rapid. In 2011/12, his first full season at Newcastle, Ben-Arfa was superb, and lit up the Premier League. He inspired Newcastle to a fifth-placed finish and was among the league’s top performers.
Over the next couple of years the Frenchman fell out with Alan Pardew and Steve Bruce, which saw him sent back from his loan spell at Hull City and released by Newcastle. The former Marseille man headed for the south coast of France, where he joined Nice and his subsequently had a great season in Ligue scoring 17 goals in 34 games.
GHANAIAN POINT OF VIEW
The former Great Olympics player, Joseph Tagoe, popularly known as ‘Bobby Short‘ joined Hearts of Oak in 2005 but struggled to explode amid a career punctuated with several controversies. He jumped ship to join Nigerian side Sharks FC but again failed to shine in Africa’s most populous nation, leading to his return to his native country.Not much was heard of him since then. He later went into movie acting briefly coming up with a couple of short series but that also was a nine day wonder. Tagoe returned onto the pitch with Ebusua Dwarfs during the 2018 GFA/StarTimes Gala after hanging his boots in 2015 to relaunch his career; thus 3 years interval. Things didn’t work for Tagoe as expected and so couldn’t signed for Dwarfs.
After a sterling season with Hearts of Oak during his first spell, Cobbinah went ahead to become one of Hearts’ best players the following season (2013/14) and ended the season as the club’s joint top scorer with six goals. His abilities earned him so many admirers which led him to join the bandwagon by signing for a Saudi Arabian side Najran FC – a move many couldn’t comprehend considering the immense talent Cobbinah possessed. Europe but not Asia should be his destination they thought.
After two seasons with the Saudi club, things didn’t go as expected and Cobbinah had to terminate his contract due to a breach in the contract by his employers. The only option left was to return home and relaunch his career. The 25-year-old earned a place in the local contingent of the Black Stars during the 2017 WAFU Tournament which earned him a contract in Albania with FC Tirana.
The ’ex convict’ returned to Ghana after serving 13 months of a two year jail term to re-launch a career that almost died at Asante Kotoko. Following his splendid performance at Kotoko in the local scene and in the CAF Confederations Cup, he earned his first Black Stars call up before moving to Esperance in Tunisia.
Fatau was released by Enyimba at the end of last season. He is now with Legon Cities FC in the Ghana Premier League. Fatau who has featured for Okwahu United, Ashanti Gold, Chippa United and Enyimba was the first choice goalkeeper for the Black Stars until the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea.
The former Berekum Chelsea Forward signed a deal and re-joined Accra Great Olympics to have a career re-launch. Unfortunately the club has parted ways with the striker after the few matches played this season. Clottey was without a club since leaving Yalova FC in 2017. The 32-year-old has previously played for Tema Youth, Sekondi Eleven Wise, and Asante Kotoko. He also had a brief stint with UAE side Al Dhafra.
I must admit that there are many other players in this review but out of a total of 25 players on this list, 19 were successful to re-launch their footballing career; with only 6 out of the 25 players who failed to breathe fresh air into their careers after a bad performance.
This shows that, at a point in time in a footballer’s career, re-launching or revival is crucial whether switching clubs or going back to your mother club. Note that there are some coaches who are also experts in helping re-launch a career and in Ghana Dramani Mas-Ud Didi is one of the technical handlers who poses that dexterity. Dramani Mas-Ud Didi in his days at Kotoko, used Michael Helegbe in certain matches and will rest the experienced player When his performance will expose him to the large Kotoko fans and that was just to eschew pressure from mounting on Michael Kafui Helegbe when he was not in good shape. Helegbe a Ghanaian professional footballer, who currently plays for Tripoli SC in the Lebanese Premier League but before played for Liberty Professionals and was later loaned to SK Brann 2007–2009. He later joined Avant Guingamp, Oostende and returned back to Liberty Professionals and then to Asante Kotoko 2013–2014. Helegbe who had his first National team stint in 2007 had his career revived under the tutelage of coach Dramani Mas-Ud Didi who now exhibits his technical prowess at FC Nordsjaelland.
From: Enoch Worlanyo Multimedia Head Of Sports, Adom cluster.