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Where Are They Now? John Paintsil

However, what famous mistake overshadowed his time at the Boleyn Ground? Why did things never really work out for the defender with West Ham? And more importantly, where is he now?

John Paintsil

The future professional footballer was born in June 1981 in Berekum, Brong-Ahafo, Ghana and always dreamed of playing the game he loved growing up in his native Africa.

After he was born, a bizarre and infamous error on his birth certificate saw his registered surname become Pantsil, in contrast to his family name of Paintsil, something that would crop up in his later life.

Paintsil played his youth football for the famous Berekum Arsenal, a team solely inspired by the Premier League team it’s named after, making his first-team debut for them in 1999.

The young charge soon moved on to bigger and better things with Liberty Professionals, before journeyed back to his hometown to represent the Arsenal during the 2001/2002 season.

However, it wasn’t long before the solid defensive prodigy was attracting attention from further afield, namely Israel, transferring to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2002.

By this stage, the star’s International career was beginning to gather pace, representing Ghana, he made close to a century of appearances and turned out at two successful World Cups, the 2006 and 2010 tournaments, where the nation reached the knockouts.

Paintsil settled in well in Israel and even got to play on the European stage with his first Club, spending two years with them before moving on for a further two-year spell at Hapoel Tel Aviv.

When the youngster’s performances caught the eye of English clubs at the 2006 World Cup, he was to leave Israel having lifted both the league and the cup, an impressive early trophy haul.

Alan Pardew was to best rivals to Paintsil’s signature that summer, bringing him to the English capital to play in the Premier League for the first time, but it wasn’t initially all it was cut out to be for him.

During the treacherous 2006/2007 season, which saw a change of manager at the Hammers and the club avoiding relegation to the Championship by the skin of their teeth, the Ghanaian’s first in English football, he struggled for playing time.

In total, the International appeared just seven times during his first campaign and was left largely frustrated after it, reportedly wanting out of East London that summer.

Paintsil was persuaded to stay for the 2007/2008 season and his patience was rewarded during the steadier term by new boss Alan Curbishley, as the club avoided consecutive relegation battles to finish in mid-table.

The full-back, despite some stiff competition for places, managed to play 21 times in total for club and country in a season split up by the African Cup of Nations.

But, many of these were from the substitute bench and the African soon grew impatient, seeking a move across London to fellow Top-Flight side Fulham in 2008.

Paintsil had perhaps joined the East Londoners at the wrong time and never stood much chance of succeeded, still contributing a fair deal during his time, however, and departing on good terms with the club’s supporters.

Now approaching the peak years of his career, Paintsil enjoyed his time with the Cottagers which lasted for three seasons between 2008 and 2011, leaving West London with a major highlight to his name.

The defensive full-back had helped Roy Hodgson’s men to reach the final of the 2009 Europa League where he started on the bench as his team were edged out in extra-time by Atletico Madrid.

The Ghana hero decided to stay in England when he was told he had no future at Craven Cottage, spending a single term in the second tier of English football with Leicester City.

Unlike many fellow Ghanaian stars, Paintsil decided not to return to Ghana to play out his twilight years as a footballer due to his success making him and his family unpopular in the country.

Instead, he returned to former club Hapoel for a single term and after this, did go back to Africa, however, not Ghana but South Africa for two spells leading up to his retirement in summer 2016, Santos and Maritzburg United were the duo of clubs.

Upon hanging his playing boots up, tributes for all around the football world were paid to him in gratitude of his long and sometimes controversial career, though there could be little doubting that 17 years in football was a highly-impressive achievement.

Debates about his name still go on to this day as it appeared as “Pantsil” during his time in England due to Premier League registration regulations, as his real name “Paintsil” at most clubs and even “Panstil” at one time.

However, that discussion is set to rage on forevermore as Paintsil decided to remain in the game, taking up the assistant manager role at Kaizer Chiefs in the same month as his retirement, but losing that role in January 2017 and is now looking for a way back into coaching while working as a pundit.

John Paintsil may not be the most memorable player to ever appear in a West Ham shirt, however, perhaps always had the potential to be a cult hero, never fulfilling that throughout his career, though Hammers have surely not heard the last of him and his promising managerial career that surely lies ahead.

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Where Are They Now? John Paintsil


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