by Tom Stewart
Born: Kumasi, Ghana (6/6/66)
Clubs: Saarbrucken, Eintracht Frankfurt, Leeds United, Hamburg, Al-Ittihad
International: Ghana (59 games, 29 goals)
Ladies and gentlemen I give to you thunder legs himself, Anthony “Tony” Yeboah. A prolific scorer of spectacular goals and only Premier league player to win successive ‘goal of the month’ competitions.
Yeboah grew up in Ghana and started playing club football in his homeland aged 15, making his Ghana debut aged 19. Aged 22, he made his big move to Europe. This was a time when African players were reletively rare in Europe, in fact Yeboah was only the 2nd black player to play in Germany’s Bundesliga.
He moved to 1. FC Saarbrücken, and after a short period where he was adjusting to his new surroundings, he was a big success, scoring 26 goals in 65 games.
In 1990 he moved to Eintracht Frankfurt, and was initially subjected to racial abuse from his own fans, being the first black player to play for the club. His performances soon won over his critics, however, and he influenced the foundation of cult supporters group Zeugen Yeboahs (Yeboahs Witnesses), which exists to this day. His success led to an influx of African players into Germany such as Jay Jay Okocha and Samuel Kuffour. He scored 68 goals in 123 games in Frankfurt and was the leagues top scorer twice. However in 1995 he fell out with manager Jupp Heynckes which led to his departure from the club.
A loan move to Leeds United followed where he scored 12 goals in 18 goals, included a hat trick against Monaco in the UEFA Cup. The next season he made his move permanent for £3.4m.
He became a hero in Yorkshire, and still is to this day. At the beginning of the 1995-96 season he won successive ‘goal of the month’ competitions. Firstly against Liverpool where he unleashed a spectacular volley which rattled in off the cross bar. To this day amateur players in England still describe a goal that goes in off the cross bar as a “Yeboah” which must be met with a trademark Yeboah celebration (waving the index finger whilst running around……a cry of “YEBOAHHHHHH” must also be done). His second competition winner was against Wimbledon where he collected the ball on his chest around 30 yards out, before effortlessly moving past two defenders and unleashing a shot that any goalkeeper would be suicidal to get in the way of. Whilst at Leeds one of his shots was recorded at 96mph.
He attributed his good performances at Leeds to his love of Yorkshire Puddings and overall his addiction to batter helped him score 24 goals in 47 games. He was also the clubs first foreign player of the year. However, injuries and a fall out with manager George Graham meant he was off again.
Yeboah moved back to Germany, this time with Hamburg where he played 100 games in 4 seasons, scoring 28 goals (remember he was without his Yorkshire Puddings this time), before moving to the Qatari premiership for a couple of seasons until his retirement.
Post retirement he set up a sports agency and opened a chain of hotels in Accra called “Yegoala”. He did this to give something back to the people of Ghana, creating jobs for over 500 people.
It is unknown what Yeboah’s actual birthday is, and Ghana’s then-manager Otto Pfister said: “There’s only one way to find out: saw his leg off and count the rings”