Ishmael Yartey is one of the most talented youngsters to emerge from Ghana in recent years. As an integral member of the 2007 under 17 world cup squad, he helped Ghana reach the semi finals, losing out to a Bojan Krekic inspired Spain.
It was therefore no surprise that after his very impressive performances in the tournament, European clubs were eager to sign him. He eventually signed for Benfica in Portugal.
soccerhene met up with Yartey to talk about both his club and national team careers thus far.
soccerhene: Starting your football career in Ghana, When did you start playing?
Yartey: My parents tell me that during infancy, I always loved playing with a football. I played football at school and in my neighbourhood. But started playing for a football club when I was in primary school.
soccerhene: Were you also developed in one of the countries soccer academies and what team did you play for in Ghana?
Yartey: I didn't get the opportunity to learn from any of the soccer academies in Ghana but rather played for colts clubs Polo FC and Coastal Fauzan. Nana Agyemang spotted me in one of these colts games, and he told me he could see potential in me. He then took me to train with Liberty Proffessionals. After sometime, he took me to All Blacks where he was the coach.
soccerhene: Going to the under 17 world cup in 2007, can you tell us how you were selected?
Yartey: In my first season with the club, I helped All Blacks to qualify back into the premiership. I then played in our first four games. After our away game against Real Sportive FC the coach of the under 17s Bashiru Hayford was present at the game and invited me to join them the next day.
soccerhene: When and why did you choose to sign for Benfica?
Yartey: I signed with Benfica after the under 17 world cup even though a few other clubs were interested in my services. The chairman of my club back in Ghana prefered Benfica because he said there was a Ghanaian(Freddy Adu)here at the club, so I would feel more comfortable and it would also be easier to adjust.
soccerhene: How would you describe your style of play?
Yartey: I will say I'm an attcking midfielder. I Love to create and score goals. Also, I like to fight and win balls when the opponent are in possession.
soccerhene: Which is your prefered postion? left wing, attacking midfielder or striker?
Yartey: Left wing used to be my prefered position but I'm now very used to playing in any position from the middle and attacking part of the game.
soccerhene: which player would you say inspired you the most, or rather who was your idol?
Yartey: I will say the former captain of the Black Stars Abedi Pele and Fernando Redondo of Argentina. Because of their creativity, quickness on the ball and also ability to score goals. I have come to admire and like Sulley Muntari as well for his fighting spirit and the seriousness he attaches to games.
soccerhene: Since the under 17 world cup, can you tell us how your club career has developed?
Yartey: I would say coming to Europe after the under 17 world cup has helped me a lot. I have come to learn from some of the best coaches in the game(Jose Antonio Camacho and Quique Sanchez Flores). I was with the first team most of last season, training and getting encouragements from players like Pablo Airmar, Jose Antonio Reyes, just to mention a few. This doesn't only give you the desire to work hard but also gives you determination to learn and improve each day.
Last season I didnt get a lot of first team action but all has changed this season as I'm playing regularly every weekend.
soccerhene: Have you been in contact with your team-mates after they won the under 20 world cup?
Yartey: I was in contact with them right after I returned to Portugal. At the begining, during and after the tournament. We do talk with each other very often. I wished them good luck before the tournament and congratulated them after each game until the end of the tournament.
soccerhene: The next target for most of these under 20 players is the under 23 Olympic games in 2012 in London. How eager are you to be part of this squad?
Yartey: All I can do as a player is to work hard every day and prove that during games. If I'm invited to the national team, then it'll be an honour. I will always give out my best on the pitch whether it be for my country or club.
soccerhene: This season, 2009/2010, you are on loan to S.C. Beira-Mar where you are playing first team football. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yartey: Being on loan this season has really helped me a lot. I sometimes play on the right or left wing and also behind the forward(no.10). By the good grace of God I have been able to convert most of the chances I have had into goals. Till now I have got 6 goals in both the league and cup matches.
soccerhene: Regarding the situation with the national team, Black Satellites, what is your final message to Ghanaians?
Yartey: I will like all Ghanaians to know that I am improving each day on the talent and potential they saw in me during the under 17s. If its by the will of the Almighty God that I become one of the great players in a few years to come, it will definately happen. I also thank all Ghanaians for their prayers and support they give to Ghana football and us the players.
Ishmael Yartey is a rare talent indeed. It is the hope of all soccer loving people that his full potential is realised both for his club and nation. We wish Ishmael Yartey continuous success in his career.
Interview conducted by Mike Mills
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