Posted On Monday, 12th August 2013
“Tnx be to God just signed with Sogndal (Norway) my first European club” he tweeted. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then those words are similarly worth a thousand emotions. He taking to twitter and attaching an image to announce his move to Norway, spoke volumes of his joy, not least the phrase “my first European club”.
You don’t need to read too hard to discern that for Mahatma Osumanu Otoo, it was a dream come true. He could care less if Sogndal was a mid-table team in an unfashionable league.
He had come a long way from his playing days in Mamprobi, Accra Ghana; where he was born and nurtured; where the dream began.
Born February 6, 1992, it was in the Mamprobi suburb that Mahatma began his development with youth side Ken Harrison Babies.
He got noticed early on while playing in the national juvenile league and distinctly holds the record of playing for both Under-14 and Under-17 teams on the same day.
However, it was at Sporting Mirren, a side he helped qualify for the Ghana Premier League in 2008, that Mahatma signed his first contract, aged only 16 years.
His outstanding performances in the 2008/2009 attracted Ghanaian giants Accra Hearts of Oak who signed him in 2009.
His good output ensured a loan deal to Tunisian giants, Esperance in 2010, but that adventure failed and a year later, Mahatma returned to Hearts where rose to be captain until his move to Sogndal last Wednesday, August 6, 2013.
But as Mahatma would have picked from twitter and other social media, not everybody is sharing in his joy.
What could have been
For someone who had just enjoyed a bumper season; crowned MVP and Goal King (20 goals) for the 2012/2013 Ghana Glo Premier League season; one who held a decent international CV including several stints with various national teams; one who lead the national U-23 team, the Black Meteors to the 2011 All Africa Games gold medal in Mozambique where he scored 4 goals, it was expected that Mahatma would secure a major move to mainland Europe amid several other lucrative speculations.
As it turns out, Mahatma has traded the warmth of Accra for Sogndal (a municipality with a population of about 10,000).
At Songdal he would earn $8,000 per month, playing for a club that was promoted to the top flight in 2011 and currently lie 9th in a 16 club league that is half way through the season.
Could he not have secured a more lucrative move? Or even to a more competitive environment to match his growing stature? What were his options really?
The speculations began with a link to English side Sunderland, and then it was South African side Memelodi Sundowns, D.R Congo’s T.P Mazembe all the way to Club Brugge of Belgium.
With all these in the pipeline, Mahatma could have decided to hold out, stay in Ghana and wait for the highest bidder; but then again, what is the guarantee that he would have reproduced his last season form to keep suitors interested, plus there is always a threat of injury.
He could have also decided to join cash rich Mamelodi Sundowns or T.P Mazembe where he could have even earned twice what he would be earning at Sogndal (It is reported that fellow Ghanaian, Solomon Asante earns almost $15,000 monthly at Mazembe), and also play in the CAF continental tournaments for greater exposure, yes he could have, but all that is cast in wishful thinking and Mahatma obviously made a practical choice.
Mahatma would have remembered the story of Kweku Essien, then at King Faisal, who won MVP in 2007 and ended up failing one trial after the other. Instead of waiting for the full loaf which wasted assured, Mahatma clearly weighed his options, saw an opportunity and grabbed the half loaf.
Indeed, it’s no fancy transfer but it’s a stepping stone to bigger things. He is only 21 and is just about hitting his prime. What this move guarantees is an opportunity to be eased into European football without the pressures that come with playing in a fancy league or an elite club.
He can look to Ivorian Didier Ya Konan, who played for Rosenborg in Norway before moving to the more competitive German Bundesliga with Hannover 96.
He can also take inspiration from compatriot Adbul Majeed Warris, who started on the low with Hacken in Sweden, a similar Scandinavian country before securing a bumper deal to Spartak Moscow.
All Otoo has to do is work hard, refine his shooting ability, cut out the wild shots and aim at placement. That done, the goals will flow, and sooner than later, he too will secure his bumper deal.
When that happens, we all know where we will hear it first; twitter! The only uncertainty will be the construction of the tweet. Will it be “Thank God I made the right move”? It will not only be worth a thousand emotions, it might be worth millions of dollars.
[email protected]/twitter @niithesoccerguy/ 90 Minutes Newspaper