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It is an over-used phrase, but Samuel Sarfo’s rise from guarding the Black Stars of Ghana as a policeman last year to being a member of the team now is truly the ‘stuff that dreams are made of’.
The Liberty Professionals captain, who can play in central defence or central midfield, is part of coach Kwesi Appiah’s 21-man team currently in Houston for the friendly against Mexico tonight (Thursday morning at 03:00 CAT). From there, they’ll go to Connecticut to face the USA on Saturday.
If Sarfo gets to play, it will complete a remarkable tale that has generated huge interest in Ghana after he was called up for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia earlier this month, and then for these two games.
That interest was sparked by a photo of Sarfo in police uniform, on guard duties at the team’s base last year, posing with Udinese midfielder Emmanuel Agyemang Badu as he prepared for a Black Stars game.
Badu was later dropped from the squad for the game against Ethiopia and the tour of the USA while Sarfo, playing in the domestic league, got in. Badu has nothing but good things to say about his compatriot though.
“I was so happy when I saw that he has finally earned his call-up,” Badu told KweséESPN. “It is an incredible story because he was really determined to make that climb up when he was guarding the team last year.”
Sarfo, who did not play against Ethiopia, tells of the photo in question: “I remember that day very well. There was so much tension ahead of an important game and we needed to make sure the players had the peace of mind to prepare, so we were to restrict as many visitors as possible.
“I spent time chatting to a few of the players and then took that photo with Badu. He just could not believe how I could combine my work as a policeman with playing football.”
So how does he do it? “The police administration has been flexible with me,” he explains. “I am allowed to train in the morning, which is the regular schedule of Liberty Professionals, and then I’m given time off for away trips.
“But after training I don’t have the luxury of going home to rest. It is straight back to duties at my post. It is hard work but it is worth it.”
That hard work earned Sarfo good reviews about his form in the Ghana Premier League, which was enough to convince new boss Kwesi Appiah to call him up.
Sarfo says the response to his call-up has been overwhelming: “When I returned to my duty post after the Ethiopia game, everyone at the station was happy for me.
“My Whatsapp has been incredibly busy as well, with a lot of messages congratulating me and urging me to continue to do well. I think people identify with things like that and like the idea that I am doing something a lot would have considered impossible.”
Having witnessed the level of play since joining up with the national team, he wants a lot more time with them, saying: “The level here is completely different from what I have been used to in the Ghana Premier League; everything about training and how you conduct yourself is a step up.”
Sarfo wants that step up in his career too, and inevitably make football the central focus of it. “If I continue to play well in the Ghana Premier League then I certainly would get the chance of a move [to a big club]. It is something I am very interested in.”
In the meantime, his focus is on the games against Mexico and USA, with a debut in mind: “I am really looking forward to those two games. Hopefully I will get to make my debut and take my chance so that the coach will have me in mind for a very long time.”