Ghana's Sammy Kuffour to end career in style in Kumasi

By Michael Oti AdjeiBBC Sport, Accra
Sammy Kuffour with Michael Ballack
Sammy Kuffour won every domestic trophy in Germany over a hugely successful career with Bayern Munich

Sammy Kuffour will bring a colourful and controversial playing career to an end in Kumasi on Friday.

The former Ghana star is hosting a testimonial featuring some of the biggest names in African and world football.

The 35-year-old defender is the most decorated footballer ever to have come out of Ghana.

"I have had a wonderful career and I leave a very happy man - football has been good to me," Kuffour told the BBC.

He is hoping that fans in his home town will give him a rousing final farewell.

"I feel I gave everything during my playing career whether I was playing for Ghana or for my club and I hope the fans will come out in their numbers to show appreciation for that."

Organisers of the game say a host of big names - many of whom played with and against Kuffour - will be on hand in Kumasi to grace the occasion.

Former Germany stars Lothar Mattheus and Oliver Kahn are scheduled to make an appearance as are former Manchester United striker Andy Cole, Cameroon international Samuel Eto'o and Nigeria legend Jay Jay Okocha.

The former BBC African Footballer of the Year has not played professionally since he left Ajax Amsterdam three years ago.

His breakthrough came in 1991 when he was a member of the Ghana side which won the World U-17 title and he represented his country at the four Africa Cups of Nations and at the World Cup.

It was at club level that he won the most honours however, winning every domestic honour in Germany with Bayern Munich before taking the European Champions League in 2001.

Samuel Kuffour is comforted after Manchester United's dramatic win in the final of the European Champions League in 1999
Kuffour's tears after the European Champions League defeat in 1999 was a defining image of that dramatic game

While there were many high points, there were lows too.

The sight of Kuffour beating the ground in tears after Manchester United's dramatic late winner denied Bayern the champions league title in 1999 still haunts him.

And once he left Bayern Munich he struggled to impress elsewhere - failing to hold down regular places at AS Roma in Italy and Ajax Amsterdam, where he spent his final months on loan.

He also had disciplinary problems - being sent home from the Cup of Nations in Mali in 2002 after breaking a team curfew.

But the abiding image of him in Ghana is of a player who gave his all and represented the country with distinction everywhere.

"He will go down as one of this country's best defenders - the manner in which he played for club and country are examples many footballers can learn," Ghana Football Association President Kwesi Nyantakyie said.

"His career proves that when you put in the effort, you get the reward."

All that was never enough to earn an accolade most people feel he deserved: The official recognition as the best player on the continent from the Confederation of African Football - but that blemish cannot mask one of the most colourful and successful careers of any defender on the continent.

A career which comes to an end, officially, on Friday.