INTERVIEW: AFS Meet Mitch Apau
Africa Football Shop are delighted to present an interview with Mitch Apau, the flying Ghanaian full-back making a big impact in Belgium.
In the opening nine weeks of the Jupiler Pro League season, one player made the Team of the Week four times.
No, he wasn’t a seasoned, grizzled veteran of the Belgian game, but a young right-back taking his first steps in a new league, at a new club and in a new country.
“Here I can use my qualities more,” began Mitch Apau, speaking to Africa Football Shop’s Ed Dove, “it’s a different style of play. Holland was more technical, but here in Belgium there are more long balls, it’s important to win the second ball.
“There’s more fighting!”
The 24-year-old speaks with the relish of a player enjoying the latest chapter of a career that has mostly been spent in the Dutch Eerste Division, and one who has found an environment that plays to his strengths.
“In Holland it was more of a passing game, much less physical; here, the whole match is a series of one-on-one battles.
“There are many good opportunities to create something.”
While Apau is a defender, he is clear where his strengths lie, and indeed, knows what his value is for new club Westerlo, “I offer speed on the right wing, I love nothing more than getting forward and delivering crosses.
“I’d liken myself most to Micah Richards. I’m someone who takes any opportunity to attack, as he does, but I am also strong and defensively savvy.”
It’s little surprise that clubs from across Europe have been alerted to his talents. He plays with the style and class of a player trained, in the words of Sean Connery, “by the best.”
Apau: The stand-out right-back in Belgium this season
Apau was forged in the fabled Ajax academy, it was a tutelage that has shaped his subsequent steps in the sport, “Time at Ajax was very good for me, technically, I learned how to play football, learning how to move the ball from defence to attack.
“Frank de Boer [current Ajax coach and Netherlands legend] was my youth coach, and it was special for me that he was my coach.
“Playing with the Ajax U-19 team was almost a guarantee of a successful professional career. Most of my teammates…all of them, perhaps, are at good clubs now.
“The credit has to go to Frank de Boer and the Ajax academy.”
Having adapted well to life in Belgium, with Westerlo, Apau’s next target is a place with the Ghana national side, an aspiration he describes as “a big dream.”
He continued, “Every summer my parents took me to Ghana. I know a lot of Ghana, have a lot of friends there.
“I have a connection with Ghana, know the country and yes, if the situation arose, I would choose the Black Stars over Holland. My roots are there, that’s my history.”
The 24-year-old draws upon one key image, one key memory, to inform his desire to represent the West African side, “when I was younger and travelled to Ghana, I played with the boys there.
“I had shoes, they didn’t have shoes. What an opportunity it would be if I could play for my own country, to represent them.
“Things like that really touched me.”
Apau has assured AFS that he is well on his way to acquiring the Ghanaian passport required for him to be eligible for the Black Stars, “this week I’m working on my double nationality, heading to the Ghanaian embassy this week.
“I’m waiting for my parents to travel over as I need them to complete the application.”
Apau has his heart set on a spot in the national team and, based on his current form, the Ghana selectors could do a lot worse that turn to a player who clearly looks destined for great things.