There isn’t any doubt it has been a vibrant route from Berlin, by way of Milan and Barcelona, and again, however amid all of the razzmatazz, look behind the tattoos and past the bling and you will note: Kevin-Prince Boateng is an distinctive footballer.
The Berlin Wall was nonetheless some months away from falling when Kevin-Prince Boateng was born within the German capital in early March 1987, however given his cosmopolitan upbringing and a profession during which he has collected virtually as many golf equipment as Air Miles, you watched no man-made barrier would ever have stopped him bridging the hole between international locations and cultures.
You simply want to have a look at his very first membership to know the mindset of a person who has performed in 4 of Europe’s prime 5 leagues, and counts Hertha, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt and Barcelona among the many 14 skilled golf equipment whose shirt he has pulled on.
The heady surrounds of the Camp Nou and sharing a dressing-room with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal & Co. are a great distance from the modest stadium of the Reinickendorfer Füchse, the west Berlin staff Boateng joined as a baby.
The son of a Ghanaian father and German mom, his household background was nicely suited to a membership the place Iran worldwide Ashkan Dejagah — a 2008/09 Bundesliga title winner with Wolfsburg — Tunisia worldwide and former Hertha, Frankfurt and Hamburg man Änis Ben-Hatira, in addition to ex-Hertha and Mainz midfielder Chinedu Ede, whose dad is Nigerian, all got here by way of.
He may have excelled if he had joined the membership’s jazz or road dance sections — anybody who noticed his Moonwalk after successful the Serie A title with Milan in 2011 can vouch for that — however he opted to dip his twinkle-toed toes into soccer.
Watch: Owo meets Kevin-Prince Boateng
That uncooked expertise was in-built: his father, Prince, had performed for the Füchse as a defender; his mom, Christine, performed soccer herself and is expounded to Helmut Rahn, Germany’s 1954 FIFA World Cup ultimate matchwinner within the ‘Miracle of Berne’ victory in opposition to the legendary Hungary aspect led by Ferenc Puskas.
Hertha have been quickly eager to faucet into Boateng’s natural-born potential, and aged seven, he was snapped up by the German capital’s premier membership. He labored his approach into the primary staff, culminating in a Bundesliga debut on Matchday 2 of the 2005/06 season when he got here off the bench at half-time in a 2-0 win over Frankfurt on the Olympic Stadium.
By coincidence, it was within the environment of Hertha’s magnificent residence that he would play the — for the second, at the least — final of his matches as a participant at a Bundesliga membership, serving to Frankfurt to a memorable DFB Cup ultimate win over Bayern Munich on the finish of the 2017/18 marketing campaign.
Boateng’s profession began with hometown membership Hertha. – Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Pictures
“I did not simply depart Germany to be nearer to my household, but in addition as a result of [Niko] Kovac was gone,” mentioned Boateng to clarify his transfer to Serie A aspect Sassuolo as his ex-Frankfurt boss headed to Bayern final summer season.
“It’s no secret that I went to Eintracht for him, however greater than something, I needed to go away a optimistic reminiscence with a German staff. Understanding I can return to Frankfurt and the individuals will welcome me with open arms is gorgeous.”
He didn’t depart solely a optimistic impression in Germany’s monetary capital.
His successful of the Fritz Walter bronze medal within the U18 class in 2005 and his triumph within the senior U19 class 12 months later gave tangible proof of the standard he was exhibiting on the pitch for Hertha, who — after 4 objectives in 42 league outings — noticed him transfer to Tottenham Hotspur.
Simply 18 months later, he was again in Germany although with then-Dortmund boss Jürgen Klopp calling him “an amazing man” as Boateng performed a ten-match cameo for BVB whereas on mortgage for the second half of the 2008/09 season.
It gave him the prospect to play in opposition to his half-brother, Bayern’s Jerome — then at Hamburg after having first performed with Kevin-Prince at Hertha — for the primary time, a duel they might notably reprise at FIFA World Cups in 2010 and 2014 in addition to within the Bundesliga when Kevin-Prince returned to Germany to hitch Schalke in 2013 after a season at Portsmouth and three years in Milan.
Kevin-Prince has confronted his half-brother, Jerome, on many events for membership and nation. – 2013 Getty Pictures
Greater than 4 years since his final Bundesliga look and after giving a speech to the United Nations having been named one in all its anti-racism ambassadors, Boateng pulled on Schalke’s quantity 9 shirt and stepped onto the pitch to renew his relationship with the German prime flight in a 2-0 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen.
Maybe unsurprisingly for a person who has moved a lot, he shortly settled into his new residence and was named the participant of the month by Schalke’s discerning followers in October 2013 as he shone in a variety of positions from defensive midfield to makeshift central striker when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was sidelined by damage.
Six objectives in 46 Bundesliga appearances later — and a dose of extra controversy for a person who himself admitted that “if it weren’t for soccer, I’d have turn into a felony” — Boateng was heading again to Milan to finish the 2015/16 season earlier than a primary style of La Liga soccer with Las Palmas.
Boateng has performed on either side of the Ruhr derby with Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. – 2014 DFL
Twelve months later, although, and his wanderlust introduced him to Frankfurt the place billions are traded on the DAX inventory alternate, however not a single cent was handed over as Boateng arrived with no strings connected.
“We’re satisfied that he can tackle an vital function. Kevin is a winner with an irrepressible will,” Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic had mentioned when Boateng put pen to paper on a three-year deal.
He solely stayed for one, however Boateng proved Bobic proper, and if he claimed “90 p.c of our success is all the way down to Niko Kovac,” a big a part of the remaining 10 p.c was all the way down to him.
Watch: A KPB spotlight reel
His first Bundesliga aim for Frankfurt — the winner in opposition to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 3 — set the tone for a marketing campaign during which he was the widespread thread within the staff’s performances whereas he additionally inspired younger abilities comparable to Ante Rebic and Luka Jovic to return out of their shells.
“We all know how a lot expertise he has. He merely simply has to verify that,” mentioned Boateng of Jovic, who has accomplished simply that within the 2018/19 season, whereas he described Rebic as “a machine”.
In a Frankfurt shirt, Boateng proved he was that too, and Barcelona’s need so as to add themselves to his prolonged CV suggests his boast that, “I do know – with out sounding boastful – I may’ve performed at Actual Madrid”, was not a boast in any respect.
A swap from the Catalan giants to their nemesis on the Santiago Bernabeu is tough to envisage given their bitter rivalry, however the blaugrana weren’t the final membership to make good use of his abilities.
“It is no secret that I might all the time been eyeing a return to Hertha,” Boateng mentioned after rejoining the Previous Woman in summer season 2021, following stints with Fiorentina, Besiktas and Monza. “The truth that it is lastly labored out makes me very proud.”
Having beforehand said, “my dream is to in the future finish my profession with Hertha”, Bundesliga followers can count on the Prince’s ultimate reign to go down an absolute storm.