THERE weren’t many Leeds fans who had heard of Tony Yeboah when he signed from Eintracht Frankfurt for £3.4 million in January 1995.
Twenty-two years on and there isn’t a Leeds fan that doesn’t know his name.
The Ghanaian international bagged 32 goals in 59 games for Leeds in his first two season and quickly established himself as a cult hero at Elland Road, not least because of his gift for spectacular goals.
Now 51, he lives back in his native Ghana…
His volley against Liverpool will live long in the memory…
It’s the early weeks of the 1995/96 Premier League season and Leeds United are hosting Liverpool at Elland Road.
Six minutes into the second half, and with the game poised at 0-0, Rod Wallace heads a Tony Dorigo cross back towards Tony Yeboah, 25 yards from goal and the Ghanaian unleashes all manner of hell on the ball, crashing home a volley off the underside of the crossbar and leaving Reds keeper David James clutching thin air.
“I hate that goal, said James, 20 years later. “I spent quite a few weeks afterwards moaning about the fact that I should have saved it. The commentator said about 30 seconds beforehand ‘all this game needs is a goal’ – and then Tony Yeboah turns up and scores.”
Once he started he couldn’t stop…
Good as that goal was, it didn’t win the Goal of the Season Award.
That went to the goal he scored against Wimbledon soon after. And what a goal.
It had the lot. A lovely chest control, a juggle on his knees to take him past a couple of Dons’ players and then the most violent of half-volleys that almost took the net off.
Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler summed it up best in his match commentary…
“Yeboah… On he goes… OHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Even by his standards that’s breathtakingly brilliant… It doesn’t need any words, just wonderment really.”
But what was the secret of his success?
Well, Yeboah once claimed that it was a local delicacy that had given him added oompf in his shooting. But it wasn’t the case, not really.
“I used to say that it was the Yorkshire puddings that gave me the strength to score goals. It was just fun,” he said. “My feet scored the goals. And my mind.”
Leeds fans took him to heart immediately…
They even came up with a song that elevated him to some pretty lofty heights.
And who cares if it didn’t quite work?
“Who needs Cantona,” they sang, “when we’ve got Yeboah?”
He didn’t get on with George Graham…
Though he was a firm fans’ favourite at Elland Road, Yeboah’s time at Leeds came to an end when George Graham took over as manager in the Scot’s first job back since his ban for taking those bungs.
Yeboah played just six times under Graham before he was offloaded to Hamburger SV in September 1997, not that Yeboah wanted to go.
The final straw was a game against Spurs where Yebaoh was substituted in favour of Ian Harte and left the pitch by throwing his shirt at his manager.
“I could have stayed at Leeds all my life,” he reflected. “[But] that was not the way to say goodbye.”
Check out his middle name…
He’s now a businessman…
When he retired Yeboah returned home to Ghana where he set up his own chain of hotels.
They’re called ‘Yegoala’ which, on the face of it, is a very poor pun.
He also runs a sports promotion agency called the Anthony Yeboah SportPromotion.
That’s much better. Does what it says on the tin.
He’s not dead, OK?
In November 2017, it was reported on social media that Yeboah had died having suffered a series of seizures on a trip to London.
It came as a shock to everyone, not least the man himself.
“I am not even sick so when I heard it, I was so surprised,” he said.
“My aunt saw it on social media and told me about. I want to assure all those who have been worried by the news that it is not true. I am alive.”