Promising defender Jonathan Mensah has plotted a steady path up through the junior ranks and is now very much part of an exciting generation of promising Ghanaian international talent. The teenage defender was a member of the squad that won the FIFA U-20 World Championship in October last year and is now knocking on the door of first team selection. Mensah, who began his career at Ashanti Gold, has also recently been signed by Udinese, but did not have much time to settle before the end of the season.
Mensah had spent the previous two years vastly enhancing his reputation with the South African Premier League club Free State Stars. He could have an intimate knowledge of the conditions at the end of Africa for the Black Stars at the finals. Mensah was brought to South Africa by Ghanaian coach David Duncan, who lasted but a single game in charge of the club before being sacked. But Mensah proved a real gem for the provincial side and became a sensation with his often wildly enthusiastic defending and committed approach.
Free State Stars’ keenness to hold on to their young defender almost derailed his international chances because the club was reluctant to let him go to the African Youth Championship in Rwanda at the start of 2009, a tournament which did not fall in the co-ordinated FIFA international calendar. But Mensah and the club made a deal over a run of successful results and when Mensah kept his side of the bargain, Stars let him go to Rwanda. He returned a fortnight later with the gold medal and later in the year did the same at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. An injury crisis allowed him a call-up to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals, although he did not play at the tournament in Angola. He did, however, win his first full cap in a warm-up game against Malawi before and has since competed in a second international against Bosnia-Herzegovina.