Ghanaian Footballer Anthony Baffoe: “My punctuality is typically German”
Anthony Baffoe was the third African player to ever play in the German top league, the Bundesliga. Following his international career, today he promotes the further development of football in Ghana. Apart from his punctuality, another thing he brought back from Germany was the will to never give up.
Anthony Baffoe was born in 1965, as the son of Ghanaian diplomats in Bad Godesberg, a district of the city of Bonn. He started his club football career with 1. FC Ringsdorff-Godesberg, which played on a sports field in Bonn-Mehlem. In 1983, the then 18-year-old Anthony Baffoe played his first match for 1. FC Köln, making him the third ever African player in Germany’s top football league, the first division of the Bundesliga.
After playing for Rot-Weiß Oberhausen, Stuttgarter Kickers and Fortuna Köln, all in the 2nd division of the Bundesliga, he transferred to Fortuna Düsseldorf in 1989, who had just been promoted to the first division. A part of his transfer fee was paid for by the punk band Die Toten Hosen, who had raised the ticket prices for their concerts by one “Fortuna-Mark” under the motto of “Ein Bein für Toni Baffoe (One leg for Toni Baffoe)”.
During his active career, which lasted until 2006, Anthony Baffoe played not only for Germany, but also for clubs in France, Hongkong, Venezuela and South Africa. He played 16 matches for the Ghanaian national team and reached the finals of the Africa Cup in 1992 with them.
Just how international has the Bundesliga become? A look at the figures shows that globalisation has transformed the German top flight, with foreign players now outnumbering home-grown talent.
Since the end of his career, Baffoe has been living in Ghana and developing new structures for football there. In 2006, he was appointed the manager of the Ghanaian national team and in 2009, he founded a football players’ union. The Professional Footballers’ Association of Ghana (PFAG) supports the rights of players, organizes training for footballers who are currently not under contract, and invites these players to friendly games, to give them an opportunity to present themselves to scouts. Furthermore, Anthony Baffoe was appointed as ambassador against racism by the International Football Association (FIFA).
In 2010, the German weekly newspaper “Die Welt” wrote this about Anthony Baffoe on the occasion of the World Cup in South Africa: “In this sense, Baffoe is a born football-diplomat: intelligent, educated, multilingual. He is an ambassador of his country, of his association, even of Africa.”
African Legends in the Bundesliga – Baffoe and Thiam
What was it like for you as a professional footballer to frequently change clubs, residences or even countries and to live in a new or different culture?
Anthony Baffoe: It was never a big problem for me, because I was raised in a multi-cultural environment. The important thing for me was that I felt comfortable where I was.
What does home mean to you?
Anthony Baffoe: Home is where my heart is: in Africa/Ghana, in Bad Godesberg, in Cologne…
Did your notion of home change due to the changes of location in your life? If so, how did it change?
Anthony Baffoe: Of course, someone like me has more than one home. I see myself as polyglot – as a citizen of the world. Someone who combines strong African roots with German influences and German virtues.
You spent more than half your life in Germany. What is typically German about you?
Anthony Baffoe: My punctuality is typically German and so is my love of details. I am also very meticulous. And: Giving up is not an option for me.
Until 2015, Célia Sasic was the forward of the German women’s national football team. Since 2010, Sasic has been active as the German Football Association’s Integration Ambassador.
Is there something about Germany that evokes feelings of home for you? If so, what is it?
Anthony Baffoe: It is very simple things, like a walk in the forest, taking the train or the tram. The sports field in Mehlem, my mother and my siblings, childhood friends and of course the Cologne dialect.
There are numerous differences, but, in your opinion, what are the most evident differences between Germany and Ghana?
Anthony Baffoe: The first thing that comes to mind is the spontaneity in Ghana, which isn’t necessarily always of advantage… But the Germans could use a little of our (sometimes involuntary) flexibility, which helps us to find solutions to many problems. In Ghana, we sometimes lack the German efficiency. For example, I think the structures of public transport in Germany are very beneficial.
How can you profit from your experience in Germany in your professional and private life in Ghana?
Anthony Baffoe: These experiences have benefitted me very much. I had many models of discipline and professionality. I learned to always have a plan B, to be well prepared and to never give up.