Former Ghana international Derek Boateng picks playing at the 2006 World Cup as the highest moment of his career.
The former Fulham and Getafe man was among a group touted as the West Africans’ golden generation which qualified the nation for its first-ever appearance at the World Cup and played at the final tournament.
Against all odds, Ghana progressed from a difficult group including Italy, USA and the Czech Republic to the Round of 16 where they bowed out to defending champions Brazil.
“Playing at the World Cup in 2010 and reaching the quarter-final [is among my highest,” Boateng told Goal.
“The first tournament in Germany would be more special because that was our first World Cup. It was crazy and we really loved it. We were in the group with the Czech Republic, the USA and Italy.
“When the US coach [Bruce Arena] was interviewed, he said he had only two games to play [in the group stage] – against Czech and Italy. He said he did not care about us [Ghana] because for us he knew he was going to pick the three points against us. After we won the game, we felt so good.”
Boateng first rose to prominence at the 2001 U20 World Cup in Argentina, where he was arguably the Black Satellites’ talisman as they finished second at the championship.
He went on to make the senior World Cup on two occasions, play at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and also featured for German side Cologne, Greek fold Panathinaikos and Spanish outfits Rayo Vallecano and Eibar at club level.
“When I started playing football, my ambition was to play for Ghana and defend my nation anywhere in the world. It was such an honour being in front of Ghanaians and fans, singing the national anthem and playing. It was more than anything and I’m so happy about that,” Boateng revealed.
“I also wanted to play in Europe as a professional player, play in the Champions League and meet all the best players in the world. [I fulfilled these and] that’s something I really cherish in my life.
“But the most of all was playing for Ghana – that was the highest moment. It was good playing in Europe and all that but playing for your national side was something special.
“In Europe, they paid us a lot of money. With the national team, you don’t receive that kind of money like you do at your club side but the joy in it is unbelievable.
“I played about 46 games for the Black Stars and I don’t know which one to choose as the most special. All games were special for me.”
Boateng also played for Kalamata and OFI Crete in Greece, AIK in Sweden, Israeli side Beitar Jerusalem, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine and Rayo OKC in the USA.