Following the success of Ghana’s World Cup playoff tie against Nigeria, there was no where else we were going to look or write first when it came to May’s article. Some of us want to know more! So, who is Otto Addo?
Throughout history, there are quite a few footballers who come around to surprise us with their creativity. They constitute those legends who have transcended their legacy and practically changed the game itself, creating a deep sense of euphoria in the minds of football fans each time they’re remembered. Brazilian born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, French-born Zinedine Yazid Zidane, popularly known as zizou, Dutch-born Hendrik Johannes Cruijff, and former Barcelona spearhead, Ronaldo de Assis Moreiram, better known as Ronaldinho among others, tops the list for sure – though, in Africa, we can also count a handful of them too – the likes of Liberian George Manneh Oppong Weah, Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o Fils…
And then, Otto Addo.
Born on the 9th of June 1975 in Hamburg, West Germany to Ghanaian parents – Ebenezer Awuku Addo and Naomi Amiokor Ntreh, both of blessed memory – Addo is a retired Ghanaian-German attacking midfielder winger who led the Black Stars to their 4th FIFA World Cup since participation in 2014. After answering the call of leadership from the Ghanaian Football Association in mid-February, the 46-year-old Borussia Dortmund talent coach moved, in a two-legged Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification play-off against Nigeria, to become the first Ghanaian Professional Footballer to Qualify for World Cup both as a Player and a Coach. After much intrigue and fatigue during the playoff, the first leg ended in a goalless draw, and Ghana managed to secure a 1-1 draw return leg to help them qualify.
Despite this impressive defeat over long-time rival, Addo’s supporters rather believe that he took charge of the team after the disappointing performance of the Ghanaian national soccer team when they failed to sail through the knockout stage at the just ended 2021 Africa cup of Nations in Cameroon.
VfL 93 Hamburg and Bramfelder SV
The career of Otto Addo as a player, later scout, and then a manager has certainly been a bit of a rollercoaster ride with many emotional highs and lows. Initial reports had suggested that it all started in 1991 in Hamburg when he played for German Bundesliga side, Hamburger SV. He would go on to spend a year playing for Bramfelder SV and later joined fellow Hamburg side VfL 93 Hamburg in 1993 where he played 80 league matches and scored 4 goals from 1993 to 1996.
Addo moved in 1996 to defend the Hanoverian team, Hannover 96, in the Regionalliga Nord (third German league). The squad at the time was playing in the second tier of the Bundesliga and Addo had the opportunity to feature to-be-stars Gerald Asamoah and Fabian Ernst. His tactical display and interactive cognition helped the team sail through the season with over a hundred goals in total. This rose Addo through the ranks of amateur games in an empathetic manner, although his Hannover 96 side finally succumbed to Energie Cottbus in the 1997 promotion playoffs.
After much foot-dragging and resilience, Hannover 96 secured a ticket for 2. Bundesliga, the second division of professional football in Germany.
In his first season, Otto scored seven goals in 30 games, making him an indispensable link between the professional and youth divisions of the club. From independent recruiters to agencies, Addo’s biggest opportunity was his unmatched aesthetic value, vision, and ball control.
Addo transferred to Borussia Dortmund in 1999 and played more than 75 times for the team, becoming Bundesliga champion in 2002 with the title “Die Schwarzgelben.” This made him pivotal among countless Ghanaian football lovers, although a string of serious injuries affected him shortly after. The first was in a German Cup match against SC Freiburg, during which, he tore a crucial ligament on his right knee and was ferried to the Vail, Colorado clinic of renowned surgeon, Dr. Richard Steadman for knee surgery. He regained form after the surgery and came back during the 2002 UEFA Cup to play, in a 2-3 defeat, the final pitting his team, Dortmund, against Feyenoord Rotterdam on May 8, 2002, at the Feijenoord Stadion in Rotterdam.
Furthermore, during the 2004 African Nations cup qualifier at the Mandela National Stadium, the dependable Addo tore his right knee ligaments for the second time while defending Ghana against Uganda. The match ended in a 1-0 defeat for Ghana.
His troublesome right knee injury resurfaced again for the third time in Dortmund’s 2–1 UEFA Cup victory over Austria Wien after barely 38 minutes of play. This kept him off the soccer pitch for another 2 years (September 2003, through 2004,) but his endless determination returned him to active play as a neck-and-neck substitute in Dortmund’s 1–1 league home draw with Borussia Mönchengladbach.
At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, Otto accepted a free transfer to Bundesliga rivals, 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the Bruchweg Stadion and did not make any initial impact despite much anticipation from then Mainz coach, Jurgen Klopp. However, his efforts to help the club re-establish themselves in the top Bundesliga fight were well enough to earn him a nomination for the Ghanaian squad that appeared at the 2006 World Cup.
On 9 August 2007, Addo eventually finished his career at his hometown club of Hamburger SV in a three-year contract that saw him appear in 14 appearances. While in Hamburg, Addo revealed in an interview with HSVLIVE that he had enjoyed a stellar career in Germany and internationally.
Addo scored two particular goals in 15 games with the Black Stars that he joined between 1999 and 2006, his debut being a 5–0 thrash of Eritrea. Along with Gerald Asamoah, Alexander Opoku, and Derek Owusu Boateng, he is one of few Ghanaians with German roots to have played for both a European and an African side. He was also a key member of the Black Stars at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where he took part in the 2-0 lead against the Czech Republic at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne. The very young team played again in a 2–1 win over the United States at the Frankenstadion in Nuremberg but later lost 3-0 in the hands of Brazil during the round of 16.
By 2017, Borussia Monchengladbach appointed him as a “talent coach” to help refer promising young talents to the club, including crafting a soccer plan to solve game-specific situations. Being a good talent coach isn’t just about learning the main skills, but more about unveiling the complex dynamics between coaches and their players – and this made Addo a “square perk.” If he is not able to attend live game encounters, the most important actions are recorded for him to analyze privately. Again, if someone was injured, he might need more intensive care depending on the gravity of the injury – and Addo would be right there providing the needed support. Having maintained a satisfying record, he was handed a similar role in April 2019 at his former side Dortmund where his enigma puzzled many outsiders.
In legendary football history, great players are often not the best managers, though Addo did triumph enough to replicate his remarkable success on the pitch of play. His mentoring maneuver was striking, dangling between the ruthless DM formation and the more subtle Hungary’s WW positioning. Passing and team harmony were always near perfect, often allowing Addo’s side to gain superiority over the opponent with relative ease. This exotic display of what many pundits consider the “Zidane Effect” promoted Addo to another assistant coach role in December 2020 to assist interim manager Edin Terzic. In 2021, he won his first title as manager when Dortmund took a lead over RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal final.
The news of this trophy became headlines in the Ghanaian sports press and Nigerian newspapers, which coined an expression that seems to explain Otto Addo’s prolific secret: “Addo is the man who always wants his team to play upfront steadily and show a wonderful display in front of the goal post.” After this achievement, Addo became the assistant to Black Star coach Milovan Rajevac. But after the Black Stars poor performance in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Addo would recieve another yet opportunity, as on the 9th February 2022 he was appointed the interim coach for the Ghana national football team ahead of the team’s 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup final play-off matches against Nigeria.
After success in Abuja, and leading Ghana to our 4th World Cup. Hopefully, this will be the 1st of many articles. And the 1st, of many success stories with Ghana.
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Written by James Orien
- The Ghana Football Association
- Otto Addo w/Jurgen Klopp (https://ghanasportsonline.com/)
- Otto Addo coaching for Ghana (https://www.dw.com/)
- Otto Addo playing for Hannover 96 (https://www.buzzer.com/)
- Otto Addo playing for Dortmund (www.cnn.com)
- Otto Addo playing for Ghana (https://www.dw.com/)
- Otto Addo w/Polka Cup for Dortmund (https://www.bvb.de)
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