Ghana's No. 1

Feature: Is Enigma spelt KPB?

Published on: 04 November 2011

It is 67 minutes into the Seria A match between his team AC Milan and Roma, he picks up a slight knock and his coach rightly substitutes him with Urby Emanuelson.

As he makes his way to the bench, he is seen mumbling words to the assistant referee.

A couple of seconds later, the red card is flashed in face for apparently muttering unkind words to the assistant referee. Ordinarily, eye brows should have been raised but not on this occasion.

After all, the player in question was Kevin Prince Boateng (K.P.B) whose middle name remotely epitomises his volatile character.

A hit on and off the pitch, Kevin has had what you would call a love-hate relationship with both club and country. T

his is the player who famously imitated Pop legend, Michael Jacksons’ moonwalk to cap celebrations of Milan’s 2010/2011 league title annexation.

One moment he is loved the next, he is loathed. Only a couple of weeks ago, he scored one of the fastest hat-tricks in football, when he scored 3 goals in 14 minutes, inspiring Milan to a dramatic comeback from 3 goals down to beat Lecce 4-3.

That, as Kevin asserted later, was in response to scathing criticisms that he was unfocused on football and rather revelling in wild night outs.

It is a terrain Kevin, has walked for a majority of his 24 year old life. He is probably getting used to it though he persistently tries to shed off his bad boy image.

An enigma he has been called, but is he really an enigma or his eccentricity is a product of his nurturing or it is just one of the many traits of highly talented footballers.

Take a seat by me and perhaps you can help me make meaning of the enigma that is K.P.B

A Psychological angle

Born on March 6, 1987 to a German mother and Ghanaian father, Kevin, who calls himself

‘‘The Ghetto Kid" because he was brought up in the poor Wedding district of Berlin, has experienced a challenging past.

Having grown up in that neighbourhood  known in Berlin as "third back yard" where the unemployment rate was more than 15 percent and 15,000 crimes committed yearly, young Kevin clearly imbibed a “survival of the fittest” value which would go on to shape his world view later on in life.

The situation wasn’t helped when Kevin always had his half brother Jerome to compare himself to.

Jerome, who currently plays for Bayern Munich and the German National Team, grew up in elite environment and went to Poelchau High School, an "elite school of sport".

Young Kevin must have thought “why not me” A thought that must have entrenched a ‘me against the world’ value early on in Kevin.


That however did not stop Kevin from pursuing a football career, the one thing that brought him joy.

At age 7, he joined Hertha BSC where he eventually started his professional career. Once Kevin started making money, he explored several ways to find meaning and fill the void he has always had since infancy. He got himself tattoos upon tattoos.

He has 26 tattoos in all and his thirst for accumulation of material things and shopping addiction is also well documented.

He is known to have bought 3 cars in one day; a Lamborghini, Hummer, and a Cadillac.

When all these didn’t fill the void, Kevin resorted to wild parties and uncontrolled night outs, a habit that clearly stalled his career when he transferred to English club, Tottenham Hotspurs.

He also skipped and reported late to training several times which led Tottenham to loan him out to Borussia Dortmund and his eventual sale to Portsmouth for the 2009/2010 season.

His habits also led to him being cut from the German Under-21 team after making about 41 appearances for various German youth teams.

It is evident that Kevin’s nurturing and upbringing has shaped his world view and behavioural patterns but then we can only say so with an amount of certainty after weighing it against the argument that Kevin’s behaviour is a trait common to highly talented footballers.

Their eccentricity according to these theorists is innate.

An Innate Angle

Football’s history is littered with several stars with the enigmatic personality.

It has been argued in some quarters that these highly talented footballers are enigmatic by nature and that their enigma is only a by product of their gifted talents.


Take Mido for instance, when he was at Ajax, he consistently showed a lazy attitude in training and was even reported to have thrown a pair of scissors at then team-mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He was also involved in screaming match with then Egypt boss Hassan Shehata on live television.

He was subsequently banned from the national team for six months.

Mario Balotelli for all his talents has clashed with his coaches from Jose Mourinho to Roberto Manchini for his nonchalant attitude to training and even during matches.

The most bizarre of all was when recently, Ballotelli got in a scoring position in a friendly match between his team Manchester City and LA Galaxy, he decided to back heel it instead of a simple tap in. He was immediately subbed.

Edmundo, the Brazilian nicknamed 'the animal' was a great talent on the pitch but was also a bully off it.

He brawled with his team-mates, racially abused linesmen and constantly got sent off. He smashed TV cameras and was a huge party animal

Then there is Maradona who used his hand to score a goal against England at the 1986 World Cup.

He was also banned for cocaine use and he also abused a TV cameraman for getting in his way.

There are other several examples including Eric Cantona’s infamous Kung-Fu Kick on a Crystal Palace fan, Matthew Simmons, after being sent off.

The French man has been reported recently saying, that moment was the best of his career. It surely doesn’t get any bizarre, does it.

These instances give armour to the innate theorists who argue that, enigmatic behaviour is just a by product of a highly gifted footballers.

We have to get used to such occasional behavioural patterns because it’s in their nature. Kevin Prince Boateng, they argue belongs to this club.

Shedding off the tag

So, whether Kevin Prince Boateng’s enigmatic behaviour is as a result of nurture or nature, we can only tell a few years down the road when Kevin would be expected to be more mature and exercise good judgement.

But he definitely needs to recognise his excesses, get the help of a shrink if need be and thereafter, if his behaviour is unchanged, then we can confidently spell "Enigma" it would be easier because, it will be in only three letters:  K.P.B

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Source: 90 minutes newspaper

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