Rapid. Skilful. Intelligent.
These words best describe 17-year-old Abdul Fatawu Issahaku, who now plies his trade at Dreams FC.
As fate intended, Ghana won the 2021 U-20 AFCON on March 6; the 64th anniversary of the nation’s Independence.
Painted in the red, gold and green with the Black star, Karim Zito’s boys marched and trudged along to victory and took their place in the history of football in Africa and Ghana.
Issahaku, a key member of that team, had always had this aura of bliss and quality around him, but the world properly caught a glimpse of him when from the centre circle, he let off a belter to help the Black Satellites thump Tanzania in the opening game of the U-20 Africa Cup Of Nations.
That was, indeed, the defining moment for him, making all the headlines despite Percious Boah’s brace that day.
According to Issahaku, that wonder goal against Tanzania was the turning moment for him in the course of the tournament.
“Honestly, this is not the first time I have scored goals like that. Everyone who knows me knows I am capable of doing things like that. For me, it was quite usual but for the world and other people, it was amazing. I can tell you for a fact that it was this goal that gave me the confidence to play so well in the tournament, and it has been an unforgettable moment for me. I can say it was the best goal of my entire life.”
By the end of the tournament, one goal became two for him, and he also took away the coveted best U-20 player of the year prize plus the ultimate U-20 AFCON as Ghana won its fourth in the history of the competition.
That was when the King of the north was born.
However, it was never his goal to fight for the best player award. For him, he just wanted to play and help Ghana win something and at least, gain a spot in the World Cup which was subsequently cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“When I scored two goals at the beginning of the tournament, I thought I could end the tournament with the Golden Boot, but our last two games gave me the idea that I could win the Golden Ball award because I was playing so well, and I knew if I performed even better, that award was going to be mine.”
Issahaku believes it was a great disappointment that the U-20 World Cup was cancelled because he was certain the Black Satellites had one of the best teams and could have done the double.
After a stellar performance in Mauritania, Issahaku signed for Dawu-based club, Dreams FC despite multiple rumours he had signed a pre-contract with Liverpool before his 18th birthday, which would have made him eligible to officially join them.
Regardless of the rumours, he does not dispute that he will be signing for a top European club after his 18th birthday, which is in March.
Despite an European move on the cards, Issahaku says it had been a long time aspiration to play for Dreams FC, joining from Steadfast FC.
“Dreams FC is a club that has been pursuing me since I was 15 but for some reason, I couldn’t join but when the chance popped up again, I was happy to join because it is a club I have always wanted to play for and since I joined, they have given me everything I need to develop and be happy here.”
“I also joined Dreams FC because of Coach Karim Zito. He is like my father, and we have an incredible relationship because he has helped me grow so much as a footballer and so it was an easy decision to join the club as I can still work with my football father,” he added.
Winning the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations earned him a spot in the Black Stars and after several call-ups, Issahaku made his debut under Milovan Rajevac, giving an impressive account of himself in a World Cup qualifier against Zimbabwe.
However, he did not think it was time for him to feature for the Black Stars, right after winning the U-20 AFCON in Mauritania.
“After the tournament, I was full of belief and confidence, but I did not think I was going to be called to the national team that soon because of the level of quality we have in the team. There were already a lot of good players in the Black Stars but when I got the call, I just said to myself that I was living my dreams now.”
Playing for the Black Stars has given him the chance to play with his role models (Mubarak Wakaso and Andre Ayew) and for Issahaku, they are moments he relishes all the time and hopes to learn more from them.
Abdul Fatawu Issahaku will once again have the chance to represent and play for the Black Stars of Ghana after being named in the 28-man squad announced by Milovan Rajevac.
It remains to be seen what will become of him next, but the future is bright. For he is the king – the King of the North. Not Wakaso, Abedi Pele, but Abdul Fatawu Issahaku.