Today is Tony Yeboah’s birthday. Born on 6th June 1966 (yes, that’s 6/6/66) in Kumasi, Ghana, the striker played 474 times for club and country and scored 216 (187 for club, 29 for the national team). Bundesliga fans will remember him at Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg but he is best remembered at Leeds United where he scored 32 goals in 66 games, including two of the greatest in Premier League history (one of which is my all-time favourite in football, shown above).
The 90s brought English football back to top with the inauguration of the Premier League. Foreign imports became the norm and amazing players from around the world graced the pitches of Britain. One such figure was Tony Yeboah. He joined Leeds United in 1995 for £3.4 million and scored 32 goals in 66 appearances. But it was one goal that drew my attention. If you’re a football fan, you know which one it is (although he scored a similar one in the same season). A header down and, without touching the floor, Yeboah volleyed a thunderbolt towards goal that smashed the underside of the crossbar and won the game. I had never seen anything like it. He reminded me so much of my dad who was the archetypal black man in my life. The connection was even deeper as my dad supported Leeds United as well (while I supported their bitter rivals, Man United). He was basically my footballing dad. I used to have a Panini sticker of him and kept it for years as a souvenir. In my later years, I bought a Corinthian figure of him as a tribute.
Black male representation was few and far between growing up, outside my father’s presence. Yeboah showed me another heroic example of a black man coming from a foreign land to save the day.
Thank you, Tony, and I hope you have a great day!