At age 31, most footballers will be considering life after retirement; but that is not the case for Yahaya Mohammed. He’s still going strong.
Not much has changed, perhaps just his hairdo, from the boy who burst onto the scenes and could do everything, literally.
He could strike a ball so well from any distance as though his feet were made of steel, could finish off chances with the finesse and arrogance a striker can only admire and could tackle so hard with little or no respect to aesthetics, like an old-school defender and a no-nonsense defensive midfielder.
It’s not by design, it’s credit to his mercurial character to see his career evolve from a limited centre-back to a defensive midfielder and now a target-man upfront leading the charge.
Like a warrior, brazen, intimidating and imposing, Yahaya has had a career soaked in controversies and niggling injuries, that have punctuated his development.
For what is worth, Yahaya’s disciplinary record has been a blight on his career and notably his off-the-field antics and shenanigans have derailed what could have been a fascinating career for the all-round colossus.
“I don’t think anyone can question his potential and abilities on the field. But Yahaya has disciplinary issues which must be worked on,” Wilfred Osei Parma (Director of Tema Youth), explaining why his outfit decided against re-signing the exuberant and cocky Yahaya Mohammed who had scored 9 goals in 11 matches while on loan at Amidaus Professional in 2012.
''Why do you think Kotoko will send him out on loan when they know he’s a good player? There are certain things about the player that many people do not know. He needs to work on some of his deficiencies and I believe the sky will be the limit for him,'' he added.
Built to last and lasting to endure all adversities, the Terminator as he’s affectionately known, looked raw but showed enough grit and graft for his talents and abilities to woo Wilfred Osei Kwaku Parma, an ace football administrator and owner of Tema Youth (a lower division side).
He saw a bright prospect through chaos – one which could not be overlooked. The Terminator joined Tema Youth as a prospect at 17 years in 2006.
Yahaya impressed national team handlers and was part of the U20 team that participated in the prestigious Toulon tournament in 2007.
Then, a tough-tackling defender, he earned himself a renewable loan move to French side OGC Nice after the tournament, but things took an unexpected turn.
Yahaya started well with the reserve team but suffered a broken foot that kept him out for majority of the time. The deal was mutually terminated and young Yahaya had to return.
He returned to the Tema-based club and later joined Berekum Chelsea before joining Real Tamale United (and a brief loan to Wa All Stars).
While at Chelsea he had an unsuccessful trial at SuperSport United in South Africa. A career breakthrough beckoned when he joined the biggest team in the land and former African champions, Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
Yahaya Mohammed who had now evolved from a center-back to a midfield bulwark helped the Porcupines win their 21st league title in 2011/12.
It was posited that, some management members of the club at the time were fed up with Yahaya’s constant bickering, demanding an improved contract and quoting exorbitant fees.
This was perceived as destructive to the Porcupines. Rivals, Hearts of Oak and AshantiGold expressed their interest in signing him, but the Porcupines decided against such move knowing his untapped quality.
Amazingly, Yahaya’s loan to league debutants Amidaus, soared his stock more than anything. He was made captain and became the club’s talisman.
He was fully transitioned from a midfielder to a striker and Yahaya seized the opportunity with both hands, scoring 11 goals in 15 matches. After the successful loan, the terminator couldn’t hide his joy as he returned to Kotoko.
''I left Kotoko last season with pains because I felt I still had enough to offer the club,” Yahaya told the club's official website.
''Thankfully the opportunity has come again and I am going to utilize it judiciously and do more than what I did with Amidaus Professionals this season.''
The club was appalled and disappointed, slapping him with an indefinite ban, but he was finally allowed to move on loan when a consensus was reached.
It was the latest episode of a career riddled with multiple controversies. The deal didn’t go as expected.
Yahaya Mohammed left the Libyan club after they failed to pay his salary for about five months and returned to Kotoko.
The Porcupines, who had had enough and could not agree new terms, later released him.
Like a chess player, he made his next move. He joined Aduana Stars, scoring 11 goals after the first half of the season and ending with 15 goals in 27 matches, losing out on the top-scorer gong to Liberty Professionals’ Latif Blessing by just 2 goals.
He tried another switch to second-tier Mexican side Murciélagos FC but that didn’t work out well.
He joined Tanzanian side Azzam FC, but again the move hit a snag when his contract was mutually terminated soon afterward -- for failing to live up to his price tag.
Yahaya returned to Aduana where he has seen some level of consistency in his game, perhaps what he needed most when his burgeoning career kicked off few years ago.
Just maybe, a case of too little, too late for the Terminator.
With just two weeks to his 32nd birthday, the Terminator looks sharper and evergreen than ever before. Yahaya, who had scored 8 goals in his last 15 topflight matches before the start of the season, has found a new lease and look much settled than ever before. He feels at home in Aduana.
He is defying age and the constraints it comes with. He has only gotten better, like an old wine.
He is leading the topscorers’ chart with 8 goals in 8 matches, while providing one assist.
Yahaya is bent on leading his charges to another league trophy – the team revolves around his charisma. When Yahaya is happy, everyone is and importantly, the team wins.
Many have wondered what kind of player he could have blossomed to become if some of the decisions he took early in his career could be reversed.
Well, we’ll never get to see that player, but one thing we’re sure is that, Yahaya has set out to rewrite his own history in his thirties and there’s no stopping – all we can do, like the Aduana fans, is to enjoy his form while it lasts.
By Owusu Ansah Doe [email protected]