Derek Boateng has become something of a forgotten man in Ghanaian football with just 20 international appearances in almost a decade of playing for the Black Stars, but there is no faulting his timing in popping up for the top tournaments. The striker, who was a teenage prodigy when he first appeared on the international scene, has again done enough to secure a 2010 FIFA World Cup™ squad place, even though he played just four minutes in the 2010 qualifiers and has won but two international caps since early 2007.
Boateng made a similar bounce back from obscurity before the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He had not played for a month short of two years for his country before a surprise recall from then coach Ratomir Dujkovic on the eve of the finals in Germany but made enough of a positive impression in a warm-up friendly against Jamaica and subsequent training camps to get a berth in the 23-man squad. He went on to play in three of Ghana’s four games at the tournament.
Boateng first played for Ghana at the end of 2001, scoring after just nine minutes of his debut against Mali, and competed for Ghana at the 2002 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali. He was a regular in the qualifiers for the 2004 continental tournament but when Ghana did not reach the final - they were embarrassingly usurped by the minnows from Rwanda - he was among those purged from the team.
His appearances since have been sporadic, but he was recalled last October for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Benin and then for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals as a late injury replacement. However because the call up did not come with the required notice, his Spanish club Getafe refused to release him for the tournament in Angola.