Forget Covid-19 and the overarching existential doom that surrounds everyday life in 2020; let’s talk about footballers that graced the pitch and lit up stadiums in the Ghanaian Premier League in the last two decades. Discussions of such canâ€™t be held without the mention of Charles Asampong Taylor.
Chalk on his boots, pace to burn, step-overs galore, back heels aplenty, Cryuff turns and rollovers were all part of the artillery the Taylor unleashed on the opposition defenders he came up against.
He played a play-making role and occasionally a free- attacking role. He was comfortable attacking on either wing or through the centre of the pitch. He allowed his football do the talking, with the forward scoring outrageous goal after outrageous goal- yet he remained calm and composed, and never appears fully content.
Taylor was born in Sefwi Asawinso in the Western North of Ghana. He began his professional career with Accra Great Olympics Spells with Accra Hearts of Oak, Asante Kotoko SC, Etoile du Sahel, Enugu Rangers and Berekum Chelsea followed.
However, it was at Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko that he played his best football. He was a joy to watch when in possession and when he decides to dribble past players. It was not rare to see him go past two or three of them in just one of his runs.
With his magnetic right foot, he had the penchant of faking a pass, faking a shot, faking a direction in movement before he bursts away and leaves his markers chasing shadows. His team-mates and fans alike found it amusing. His opponents, however, donâ€™t find it amusing.
During his greatest years, Taylor was adopted by Hearts supporters as one of their very own, and he thrived in that atmosphere, striking up a terrifying partnership with Emmanuel Osei Kuffour and the predator of a striker, Ishmael Addo. The attacking trio is always credited for the Phobians success in the CAF Champions League in 2000.
Taylor was an incredibly strong character, a leader on and off the pitch and was not afraid to speak out against injustices. His career was blemished by the occasional controversy, football related and otherwise. He won accolades to crown a successful career. He won the CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup, won 3 titles and 1 FA Cup title.
Individually, he won the Ghana Premier league topscorer with 18 goals (A feat he shared with fellow winger and teammate Dong Bortey); won SWAG Personality of the Year (2002) and was adjudged the GFA Player of the year in 2001.
But whilst it’s easy to get caught up in all of the trophies, honours and awards a player gathers during their career, you can overlook the true moments of joy and entertainment which the stars provide week-in, week-out. And that’s exactly what Taylor did.
Equipped with ample ability to succeed with the beautiful game with his speed of thought and of movement; his keen intuition and adept close control; a sharp sense of footballing intellect; to swiftly to calculate the most efficient path to goal, and the skill and athleticism to enact it as it played out in his mind; Charles Taylor almost appeared destined for greatness.
A treasured trickster, masterful wizard on the wings, his presence in the history of the Ghana Premier League will long be remembered by those in and out of the confines of Accra, Kumasi and Berekum; cherished as quite possibly one of the finest wingers the Ghanaian league has seen.