Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi will line up for England against the country where he was born tonight.
England v Ghana
U18 International Friendly
7pm, Tuesday 20 November 2007
Priestfield Stadium, Gillingham FC
Ghana’s loss is England’s gain – that’s certainly the case with Seth Nana Ofori-Twumasi.
The Chelsea right-back was born in Accra, the capital of Ghana, but left his country of birth behind to start a new life in England when he was ten.
Consequently, Ofori-Twumasi will be have mixed emotions when he lines up for England against Ghana tonight at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium.
"It will be a special moment," said the 17 year old. "It will be great playing against the country where I was born, but England is my country now."
The teenager was a latecomer to football, first lacing up a pair of boots for a school match six years ago. He had a natural aptitude for the game and after trails at Chelsea was forced to decide between football and athletics.
"Football came first," he explained. "I’m delighted I made that decision as I’ve enjoyed it so much. Everything has gone perfectly."
His athletics still comes in handy and when you see him darting up and down the line it’s no surprise to hear he ran the 100m in 11.2secs when he was just 13 years old.
Indeed, with his muscular frame and turbo-boosters in his boots, he’s a full-back very much in the mould of Micah Richards.
Like his sprinting, Ofori-Twumasi’s football career has moved rapidly. From being signed at Chelsea after impressing on trial, the youngster was called up for England U16s to meet Wales in the Victory Shield two years ago – a game screened live on Sky Sports.
"I was buzzing when I first got called up," he recalled. "It was such a big honour. We played really well and destroyed them.
"The game was on TV which made me more nervous. It’s the first time I have played on TV before. I wanted people to see what I could do but at the same time I didn’t want to make any mistakes."
An ever-present since that 4-0 victory, the Young Lion has established himself as the first choice right-back for his age group including at last summer’s U17 World Cup in South Korea.
The Young Lions began their campaign with a draw against North Korea in the searing heat of Jeju before putting five past New Zealand.
England’s next opponents were the feared Brazil – rightly favourites for the tournament – with the winners guaranteed to top the group.
The Young Lions’ hope of an upset looked doomed when Tales’ 40-yard free-kick looped over Alex Smithies but Henri Lansbury levelled with a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
With just seconds left, England launched one last attack in the vain hope of a win.
"I was on the halfway line for the free-kick," recalled Ofori-Twumasi. "Nathan Porritt took it but it was not the best and did not beat the first man. The ball fell to Henri [Lansbury] but he scuffed his shot.
"Luckily it fell to Captain Fantastic [Jordan Spence] who was in the right place at the right time. All the boys celebrated. Everyone was so happy."
The Young Lions dealt with Syria before coming unstuck against Germany in the Quarter Finals, but Ofori-Twumasi enjoyed his World Cup experience.
"I thought we did really well and I improved as a player," he added. "I’m more composed on the ball and relaxed."