A veritable veteran of the Ghana national side, John Paintsil is still at the height of his footballing prowess and, if fully fit for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, will be key to Ghana’s cause. An injury suffered in December saw him miss out on the CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola and he is slowly working his way back to fitness as the finals in South Africa fast approach. The full-back, who the English league incorrectly registered as John ‘Pantsil,’ graduated from the Black Satellites side that finished runners-up at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina.
Paintsil’s international career began just before the 2002 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali, where he featured in two matches, but stalled some 18 months later when Rwanda upset Ghana for a place at the 2004 finals in Tunisia. It was almost two years before he won a recall to the side, featuring in key qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and then playing every minute of the four games that the Black Stars played at the finals in Germany. Since then Paintsil has rarely been out of the Ghana team, competing again without missing a minute of the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of the Nations finals, and verging on 60 caps for his country.
Paintsil, who will turn 29 in the first days of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has played club football in his native country, as well as Poland, Israel and for the last four seasons in England’s top flight. His first club was Berekum Arsenal, followed by Liberty Professionals and then a brief move to Poland in 2002. In Israel, he was a successful member of the Maccabi Tel Aviv side, winning the league title and playing in the UEFA Champions League and then making a surprise move to arch rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv, first on loan and then outright for a season. West Ham signed him in 2006 on the recommendation of their Israeli international Yossi Benayoun and after two seasons Fulham bought Paintsil as part of a deal worth £6.3m in July of 2008.