The tale of Ghana’s former kid prodigy, Nii Ordartey Lamptey could be adapted for a blockbuster movie in Hollywood. The ex-Ghanaian international was touted as the next Pele, in honour of the Brazilian star, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pelé owing to his soccer artistry.
READ ALSO: Why We Think Eno Barony Should Have Won VGMA Best Rapper of The Year Award And Not Kwesi Arthur
However, Nii Odartey Lapmtey failed to live up to expectation in a career riddled with a lot of misfortunes right through to the moment he hanged up his boots. Lamptey first made his presence known as a 14-year-old at the 1989 FIFA U-16 World Championship in Scotland. After watching him mesmerize the world, Pele himself who was then watching the game with some other dignitaries branded the explosive midfielder as his natural successor.
Lamptey further took his magic to a different level two years later at the Under-17 version of the tournament in Italy. Odartey Lamptey dazzled the world once again and even overshadowed the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Juan Sebastian Veron who later became icons in football while Lamptey himself was conspicuously missing.
A couple of bad decisions and ill-luck from his agents who exploited him because he wasn’t literate like he is today which culminated in his downfall despite translating his success to club level. He started off in the Belgian league, scoring seven goals in 14 games in his first campaign alone. He did not end there, he also enjoyed an exceptional loan spell at PSV, scoring 10 times in 22 games. All this while he was still a teenager and continuing to star in various international tournaments – including the Barcelona Olympics and Africa Cup of Nations of 1992 in which Ghana claimed bronze and silver, respectively.
Lamptey himself narrated his emotional ordeal to the press saying; ‘I didn’t even know I had a right to a signing-on fee. The Aston Villa manager, Ron Atkinson, told me, and in the club office they gave it straight to me. Two weeks later, my agent came over and I think he went to the club to get the money. They said they had given it to the player. He was very upset with me. There were so many people cheating me, just looking after their own interests.’
He also added: ‘Education is very important. Education was a big problem for me,’ he said in tears in an interview with Futbol Mundial in 2014. ‘I didn’t have time to go to school. I lost so many things. I couldn’t read or write. Knowing the pain I went through at that time, I don’t want kids to go through that.’
Eventually, the great Odartey Lamptey was never the Pele we all envisaged but at least, he entertained us during the brief period that he hanged the Pele tag around his neck.
See his photos below;