Ghana and Juventus midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah talks God, faith and the beautiful game in Cross the Line. In the book, he shares his faith and reveals how it influences his life, both on and off the pitch.
Kwadwo, who was your football idol growing up?
Andrea Pirlo was one of my favourites and it was great for me as a player because I had an opportunity to play with him for three years. I can say that this is something great for me, it is not only about his football. When he was here I saw him outside of football, his personality, his way of talking to people, he is a very nice person and very humble. When you talk about Andrea there are a lot of people who know that he is a very good player, but if you get close to him then you know that he is a different person.
So you played your football as a young man in Ghana. Did you believe that one day you would make the step-up?
Yes, I used to tell my younger brother, when he used to watch the Champions League on TV, that in five years’ time he would see me playing on there. It was just a dream, I was just saying it, and within four years I was in Europe. It was something that I was thinking of doing and by God’s grace it came true.
So you got your big move, first to Udinese, but then what was it like to join Italian giants Juventus? How did it come about?
It didn’t just happen like that. I took a step before getting here and it wasn’t easy. For you to be a part of this team and to even play is not easy, because you can see the great players we have and it all comes down to hard work. I started from somewhere and it was all about hard work and prayers. When you are willing to work hard and pray, anything is possible.
What would you say is the best thing about living in Italy?
I have been here for almost eight years now and I am more comfortable because I am used to the lifestyle, so I can say that the culture is great. I cannot say that I have regretted playing in Italy. You cannot come here without learning the language because when you go to training you talk to everyone – even the coach is going to speak Italian.
What’s been your highlight so far, from your time in a Juventus shirt?
Here in Italy we have a lot of great teams, like Milan and Inter, Napoli and Roma. We also play in the Champions League against some of the top teams in the world. I have played in a lot of important games for this team.
You are now an experienced player at international level as well. What’s it like to have played in two World Cups and the African Cup of Nations?
It is just great because it is a dream for every player to play for his country and also to play in the World Cup. For a country to qualify for the World Cup, it is not easy, it comes with joy, and even being a part of it is not an opportunity that every player gets. Being with the team twice at a World Cup is great for me and also I have played at three or four of the African Cup of Nations, so I really appreciate what God has helped me do in my career.
Who is the best player you’ve ever played with?
In my team I have played against a lot of great players, and even before coming here I played for Udinese and we had a captain – Di Natale. He was an amazing player. When it comes to Juventus, it’s difficult because I have played with so many greats, you can’t just mention one. It is a great achievement for me. Not every African player gets to play with these great players and in this great team. I am so grateful for that.
So let’s reverse that: best player you have played against?
I can mention a few who it wasn’t easy playing against because of their speed and their skill. I imagined to do what I could against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Juan Cuadrado, Gareth Bale – those are the three. It wasn’t easy playing against them.
Let’s talk about your faith now, Kwadwo. Where did your love for God come from?
I was brought up in Christian home because my dad and my mum are both Christians, so I started when I was young. My dad used to teach us about the word of God and we would go to church every Sunday. This is when I started to get to know God and his word.
Do you have fellow Christian players you meet with to talk about your relationship with God?
At Juventus, I do not know, but in my national team there are a few who are Christians. We all know that we worship and believe in one God, we talk about the word of God and encourage each other.
Does God feature in your matchday routine? In what way?
I pray before leaving the hotel – I make sure that I pray before I leave. Then before the start of the game, I pray as well. After the game, when I get home I have to pray, because sometimes you will be happy but sometimes you will be sad after the team has lost. Either way, when I get home or when I am about to go to bed, I will thank God for everything.
Do you have any idea what God has in store for you in the years to come?
I believe in the word of God and I know that it is not my strength or my ability, it is the word of God that has really helped me. Even outside of football it is the way that I carry myself. I respect everyone because of the way that I was brought up. Also, sometimes in football we need luck, and in all of this luck there is God doing all of these things in my career.
I cannot say that it is my talent that is pushing me because I know some people in Ghana who are more talented than me. But because I have the favour of God I am in a good position now. I am playing in a big team and not everybody has that opportunity. I can say that where I am now is down to God, and he has given me the favour to be here.
What advice would you give to other Christian footballers in the game?
What I would say to others to advise them is that football is not something easy – it comes with a lot of things. It takes determination, hard work and prayers. A lot of players started but couldn’t finish because they didn’t believe and they just gave up. So in everything they do, they should just know there is God and just believe in their own ability.
We all come and have different talents. Maybe there are some things I can do that other people cannot do. Some can do what I cannot do, so each and everyone just needs to know that there is someone up there than can help. I think that if you believe then you can do anything, no matter how difficult it is. In your career you sometimes go through difficult times and you have to be strong. It is not easy but I believe. You cannot say that everything in life will be so perfect for you. At times it will be a bit difficult, and that’s when you have to believe that you can do it.It is not the end.