By Stephen Byrne
The Fifa World Cup begins in Brazil on 12th June and we will be looking at Rovers’ connections with all participating countries.
Three Ghanaian internationals have represented Rovers in the Football League. Though most Rovers supporters would swiftly remember the name of Junior Agogo, how many of you also remembered Elvis Hammond and Ansah Owusu?
Manuel “Junior” Agogo, who was born in Accra in August 1979, was a popular striker at the Memorial Stadium.
Fluent in the African dialects of Fant and Ga, he has played professionally on both sides of the Atlantic, appeared in Cyprus, Denmark and Egypt, and scored 41 goals in 106(+17) League appearances in a Rovers shirt, before playing for Nottingham Forest against Rovers.
He scored twelve goals in 27 full international matches for Ghana between 2006 and 2009, including one in the third-place play-off, a 4-2 victory against Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations in 2008, when he was his country’s joint highest scorer in the tournament.
The first goal he registered for Ghana was the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Australia in a friendly in November 2006 and he also added the third goal when Ghana defeated Nigeria at Brentford’s Griffin Park.
The illustriously-named Elvis Zark Hammond, born in Accra in October 1980, joined Rovers on loan from Fulham in August 2001 and played in 3(+4) league matches for the club.
Elvis made his international debut for Ghana in March 2006, in a 1-0 defeat against Mexico at the evocatively-named Pizza Hut Stadium in Dallas.
This proved to be his only representative honours for his country, Hammond progressing from here to a lengthy career in senior non-league football in England.
Back in the 2000-01 season, Ansah Owusu joined Rovers on loan from Wimbledon and appeared in 11(+6) league matches without scoring.
Though London-born, Owusu represented Ghana in five international matches in 2001 and 2002, four of these caps being obtained at the African Cup of Nations held during the spring of 2002; most recently, he was first team manager at Enfield.
A cousin of Lloyd Owusu, who played against Rovers for Brentford, Yeovil Town and Cheltenham Town, Ansah Owusu married Beatrice Opuku and lives in London, where he is a Police Constable in the Metropolitan Police, patrolling the Barnet area.
One recent Ghanaian to score a league goal against Rovers was Derek Asamoah. The fast striker scored for Northampton Town on Boxing Day 2003, claiming his goal 15 minutes from time as the Cobblers snatched a 2-1 win at the Memorial Stadium.
He later missed a penalty in a League game for Shrewsbury Town against Rovers and was in the Shrews’ side at Wembley against Rovers in May 2007.
Ghanaian-born Kim Grant, who played in league football against Rovers for Luton Town, Millwall and Charlton Athletic, as well as for Yeovil Town in a Football League Trophy tie, scored one of the three goals through which Luton Town defeated Rovers in a League Cup game in August 1996.
Will Antwi, British-born of Ghanaian descent and the holder of three full caps with Ghana, played for Wycombe Wanderers against Rovers in August 2006 and scored for AFC Wimbledon against Rovers in October 2012.
Kevin Amankwaah, another British-born Ghanaian, whose mother Rose won a bronze medal with Ghana at the Commonwealth Games for the 4x100m relay, has played against Rovers for Bristol City, Cheltenham Town, Yeovil Town and Exeter City.
Ghanaian international Alex Nyarko was in Everton’s side for their League Cup-tie against Rovers in September 2000. Born in Accra in October 1973, Nyarko was a midfielder with Asante Kotoko before playing in Switzerland, Germany and France as well as for the Goodison Park club. He won a bronze medal with Ghana at the 1992 Olympics and participated in two African Cup of Nations tournaments.
Ali Fuseini, a Ghanaian, came on as a substitute after just five minutes of Millwall’s visit to The Mem in November 2007 and scored in the eighth minute.
Bradley Hudson-Odoi, Ghanaian by birth, played as a substitute for Hereford United against Rovers in August 2008, Rovers winning 6-1.
Godwin Antwi, born in Accra in June 1988, played as Hereford United were defeated 3-0 at home by Rovers in March 2009 - Rickie Lambert scoring a hat-trick.
Cliff Akurang, born in Ghana in February 1981, was in the Barnet side which lost an FA Cup-tie to Rovers in January 2008.
Hervé Renard, who was manager of the Zambian side which won the African Cup of Nations in February 2012, was manager of the Cambridge United side which opposed Rovers in October 2004 and was assistant manager of Ghana during the 2007-08 season.
This season, Patrick Agyemang played in both Portsmouth’s fixture against Rovers; though British-born, he won two full caps for Ghana, scoring once, whilst Will Antwi again played for Wimbledon against The Gas.