The 2015/16 English Premier League season has been one of the most unpredictable in the league’s history, and, as Leicester City’s ‘Foxes’ edge closer to well-deserved glory, British Airways caught up with Ghanaian-born, former Dutch footballer George Boateng, to give his tips on travel and football and also share his experiences in some famous Premier League grounds.
George likes to travel prepared for anything, and packed two suitcases for his two-day trip to Ghana earlier this year. “It was a good thing because I found out I would need to stay a few days longer. I always travel with my tennis racket, so I can play any time I get the chance. I also never leave home without my wallet, mobile phone and toothbrush.”
Boateng’s Premier League career saw him play for Coventry City, Aston Villa, Middlesborough and Hull City, over a 12-year period. He recently travelled to Ghana with ex-Arsenal and Tottenham defender Sol Campbell to visit a British Airways-supported football clinic for youth coaches and boys from under-privileged communities in the country, and also launch the Unity Match. The Unity Match would feature both players, alongside retired international footballers such as Edgar Davids, Emile Heskey and Didier Drogba playing against Ghana’s national team and the famous Kumasi Asante Kotoko Football Club, using football to help defuse tensions ahead of Ghana’s 2016 general elections.
British Airways flies daily from Accra to London’s Heathrow airport, from which football fans have easy access into central London to catch the big London teams like Chelsea and Arsenal. British Airways’ extensive flight network also makes it easy to visit the footballing cities of Manchester and Newcastle and soak up the atmosphere of game day with the locals.
“It’s great to see the level of interest Ghanaian football fans have for the English Premier League, and it’s even more exciting this year with all the Ghanaian and African players doing so well. If you can get to visit a live game, believe me, the experience and atmosphere is completely amazing!”
Below, George shares five of his best experiences with premier league teams at their home grounds:
1) Aston Villa, Birmingham
“Villa Park was my home ground and a great place to play because it is so big. They also have a great training ground and fan base. This would be one of my dream managerial jobs.”
2) Arsenal, London
“Arsenal’s stadium was by far my best ground to play on. The pitch is always immaculate and their groundsmen were always winning awards. You can’t play a bad pass and blame the pitch because it is always in great condition. Plus, I didn’t lose many games there. I lost a lot in Highbury, but the Emirates stadium was always good to me.”
3) Manchester United, Manchester
“Old Trafford was always a daunting place to go, because the grounds are imposing and the team was very good in my time. But the grounds were nice, the fans were tough and the atmosphere is electric.”
4) Tottenham Hotspur, London
“I love Tottenham’s grounds. The good thing about Tottenham is that they always play football – they win playing football, and they lose playing football. I always had a better team than them though, so I loved going there. I did not lose many games at Tottenham.”
5) West Ham United, London
“I remember we played at West Ham, and during the game, my then manager, Steve McLaren – well, someone must have given the ball away, and Steve got up to shout at him. I could see him up there shouting, and then he went back to sit down. But they had those seats that fold away when you stand up, so next thing you know, Steve was on the floor. This was during the game and we had a good laugh about it.”
Credit: British Airways