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FEATURE: Oliver Arthur, ArthurLegacy and the talent-export model in Ghana football
Arthur Legacy CEO Oliver Arthur.

The untold story of the rise of Oliver Arthur and his leading ArthurLegacy sports business franchise is remarkable. The company has an enviable pedigree thriving beyond Ghana football. In anticipation, Arthur could rise to the level of modern football’s ''super-agents'' in Jorge Mendes, Mino Raiola and Pini Zahavi.

Arthur enshrines a model of player development into a needs-driven football business scenario that has become an important reference of Ghana football.

In the ArthurLegacy talent-export model, self-development is principal – Arthur does not go looking for players others developed.

The vision is built on developing players from their formative years and having lifetime relationships with them, stretching beyond their playing careers.

Mumuni Abubakar (left) and agent Oliver Arthur (middle) during his trial at Liverpool
Aside an association with a Nigerian quartet –  Orji Okwonkow (Bologna), Umar Sadiq (Partizan), Kingsley Michael Dogo (Bologna), and Abdullahi Nura (ex-AS Roma) – Arthur manages more Ghanaian players in Italy than everyone else. Today, counting mainly from Italian football, ArthurLegacy’s fleet includes an impressive list of plus-33 current players and many former clients.


Oliver Arthur’s client Orji Okwonkwo named Montreal Impact MVP for the season
The newer generation of youngsters coming through the system are led by Philip Yebaoh Ankrah (Hellas Verona), Salim Abubakar (Sassuolo), Carl Davordzie (Parma), Kwaku Osei Bonsu (Caracas FC), Ahmed Awuah Ankrah (Parma), Justin Kumi (Sassuolo), Ibrahim Mustapha (RS Belgrade), Kingsley Ofori Asante (Cremona), Edmund Addo (FK Senica) and Brian Odei (Sassuolo). The company’s strategy also focuses on the Under-16s. Isaac Annan (Parma), Mike Aidoo (Chievo Verona) and Enoch Owusu (Inter Milan) are such examples.

Oliver Arthur and Godfred Donsah
The other generation of players, current and former, includes Richmond Boakye-Yiadom (RS Belgrade), Godfred Donsah (Cercle Brugge), Bright Addae (ex-Parma), Hans Nunoo Sarpei (VfB Stuttgart), Derrick Appiah (ex-AS Monaco), Patrick Asmah (ex-Atalanta), Augustine Okrah (ex-BK Häcken), Evans Osei (ex-Torino), Salifu Alimeyaw (ex-Hellas Verona), and Afriyie Acquah (Yeni Malatyaspor).

The story began in Accra on 23 March 1974 when Oliver Kwame Afful Arthur was born to the late Yaw Arthur and madam Beatrice Tawiah.

Oliver Arthur (right) and his father Jospeh.
A Fante speaker, his hometown is Enyan Abaasa (Central Region).

His education was at Suhum Secondary (1987-92) and Accra Academy (1992-94), which propelled him to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (1998-2000) and a later career as a travel agent at 2020 Travel and Tours, Alitalia and Air Maroc respectively.

The destiny of ArthurLegacy did not start right away after his career at Dansoman United FC where he played Colts football for the U-17 team and was a promising winger until parental pressure forced him to quit to focus on his schooling.

Richmond Boakye-Yiadom and his agent Oliver Arthur
 

Arthur began full-time life in football as a Chief Executive Officer of the then lower-tier Bechem United FC, in the mid 2000s. He would later resign from this Bechem role to pursue a new philosophy –  doing transfer deals and managing players on a full self-funding model. He would also adopt to a principally Italian transfer market and be perpetually heard praising a certain Mauro Barnebei for his agency career.

He met Italian football agent Barnebei while working at Alitalia and he helped him develop a concept to setup an agency.

Barnebei had a registered company in Morocco called Atlas Sports and was also a match agent.

Oliver Arthur (left) and Ralph Gyambrah (now Bono & Ahafo Regional FA chairman).
Arthur brought his brother  Roy Arthur and friends Kojo Frempong, Ralph Gyambrah and Percy Allotey to form Atlas Sports in 2006. Bechem United owner Owusu-Achau joined the company, using his club as a development partner.

He had served as part-time manager of the Under-17 team of Liberty Professionals between 2003 and late 2004. Despite leaving, he occasionally returned to Liberty to process their visas, famously he did the visas for the first travels of Kwadwo Asamoah and Rabiu Mohammed.

Oliver Arthur
He credits Barnebei, the Liberty Professionals duo of Alhaji Sly Tetteh and Felix Ansong and  Bechem United Chairman, Kingsley Owusu-Achau for his rise in football.

Atlas Sports managed both D.C. United and Bechem United officially, helping the clubs to travel abroad for scouting events like the Trofeo "Nereo Rocco", Trofeo Karol Wojtyla and Citta di Gradisca-Trofeo Nereo Rocco U-16/17 tournaments in Italy.

Atlas succeeded in securing transfer deals for a number of players, including Isaac Cofie, Yusif Raman Chibsah, and Alfred Duncan with the help of partner agent Leonardo Guisti.

Arthur’s role in the development of a number of other players is also we documented –  Hotter Este Edmund, Nii Nortey Ashong, Massahudu Alhassan, Maxwell Boadu Acosty, Godfred Adofo, Kofi Adjei, Eric Warden, and Azian Tano Innocent.

Afriyie Acquah and his agent Oliver Arthur
In 2010, Atlas was dissolved due to irreconcilable differences within partners and Arthur went solo, just like everyone else.

The relationship with Guisti later collapsed, leading to Arthur losing eight of the nine players their partnership co-managed. Only Richmond Boakye-Yiadom went with Arthur. Guisti went with the rest of the players including Duncan, Chibsah, Salifu Amidu and Cofie. This redefined Arthur’s career and ushered in the ArthurLegacy era.

The incorporation of ArthurLegacy came in 2013 to usher in a golden generation. ArthurLegacy would become a huge success, with the help of ace Italian agent Paolo Busardo.

Augustine Okrah (left) and his agent Oliver Arthur.
The strategy of ArthurLegacy always focused on maintaining a significant presence in  Italian football with a crop of highly enterprising youngsters throughout the system. Arthur is stronger there and in the 70-plus deals he has brokered in his career, just a few were outside Italy – for a example: Appiah in France (AS Monaco), Okrah in Sweden and Sudan (BK Häcken and Al-Merrikh), Boakye in Serbia and Netherlands (Red Star Belgrade and Roda), Acquah in Germany and Turkey (Hoffenheim and Yeni Malatyaspor), Cofie in Spain and Turkey (Sporting de Gijón).

ArthurLegacy built two flagship events into the new vision – the ArthurLegacy Invitational Scouting Tournament and CTB (Calcio Trade Ball).

 

The invitational tournaments are staged specifically for top European clubs, agents and scouts. Held under the auspices of the Embassy of Italy in Ghana on a biennial basis, CTB celebrates the contribution of Italy to the development of Ghana football and promotes Ghana-Italy cultural relations.

Maxwell Mensah and ArthurLegacy Sports CEO Oliver Arthur at the Stadio Renato Dell’Ara.
ArthurLegacy has invested in high-calibre management – in a network of people with talent and unique qualities, in Ghana and beyond. Former Accra Hearts of Oak defender Maxwell Mensah joined ArthurLegacy in retirement and is now the company’s management and scouting team.

Shiraj Ahmed,  a practicing economist with two master’s degrees, is a long-serving employee. His sister, Kathleen Arthur, brings in a wealth of corporate-level experience into her General Manager role whilst Sintim-Pako Antwi, Stephen Domfeh and James Annan are specialist scouts and managers with vast experience in player development in Europe. Gideon Attoh, renowned for his local scouting pedigree, is the company's Chief Scout.

Afriyie Acquah and family of agent Oliver Arthur having lunch.
Bertha is Arthur's wife with whom he has three sons – Jason Jojo Jaidoo Arthur (2007), Kevin Kobina Fosu Arthur (2010) and Andrew Ekow Afful Arthur (2017).

She is a highly educated interior decorator who runs a successful company called Signature By Bertha and has been a key decision maker in transfers from the beginning.

Many credits her astute business mind for the rise of ArthurLegacy.

Arthur does not like the headlines; his philanthropic works are also publicity shy.

Arthur donates clothes and food once a year and supports students with fees in Macarthy Kope-a village in Ada, Greater Accra Region. He has also donated to the SOS village in the past and does much more charity work without publicity.

Arthur is described by most of his players as a 'humanist' due to his player welfare care and that is manifested in the fact that he still maintains tight relationships with all his former players.

Yaw Ackah (left), super agent Oliver Arthur and Razak Abdul Rahim.
All the signs are that Oliver Arthur is on his way to producing a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo or a Thierry Henry or a Zinedine Zidane or all of them combined. Hopefully, that becomes a reality for the benefit of Ghana football.

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