Gerald Asamoah will go down in history as the first African-born player to suit up for the German national team but he says the journey to achieving that milestone was littered with challenges and major hurdles.
Asamoah left Ghana when he was 12-years-old, and through hard work and perseverance earned a call-up to the German national team in 2001 during a friendly game with Slovakia.
He made an instant impact, scoring on his first appearance for the European powerhouse.
His impressive performances in the German Bundesliga helped his case in the build-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup and it wasn’t surprising that he made it into the Germany squad for that tournament.
But before those successes, Asamoah had been diagnosed with a rare heart condition which threatened his career.
“ You have a dream and now doctors come in to say it is over. It was one of the worst days of my life. Everything was black and I said what is going on?
“So I said God if you help me get through this and get onto the pitch again I would want to give something back,” Asamoah told DW Sports in a recent interview.
According to Gerald Asamoah this is why he has been trying to construct a Cardiac Hospital in Ghana to reduce the prevailing rate of Cardiac related problems.
He also has the Gerald Asamoah Foundation for Children with Heart Conditions which was established in 2007.
Asamoah, who was diagnosed with hypertrophic non-obstructive cardiomyopathy in 1998, said he is working tirelessly in that regard as his token to solving heart-related conditions in the country.
Gerald Asamoah narrates how rare heart condition nearly halted his career
“In 1998, Doctors told me I can’t play football again. I sat out for three months, underwent treatment and enjoyed my career later. My dream is to build a Cardiac Hospital to treat such problems since it is very expensive.”
Despite featuring for Germany at international level, the burly striker said he has not lost track of his Ghanaian roots.
“I’m a Ghanaian and everyone knows that. I will do my best to support the development of Ghana in my small way.”
The 41-year-old, who is now retired played for teams such as Hannover 96 where he played 79 games before moving to Schalke where he really made his name and mark. Later he played for the like of St Pauli and Greuther Fürth.
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