|Full name||Nii Odartey Lamptey|
|Date of birth||10 December 1974|
|Place of birth||Tema, Ghana|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Sekondi Wise Fighters (assistant)|
|1993–1994||→ PSV (loan)||22||(10)|
|1994–1995||→ Aston Villa (loan)||10||(0)|
|1997||Unión Santa Fe||6||(0)|
|2009–||Sekondi Wise Fighters (Assistant)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Nii Odartey Lamptey (born 10 December 1974) is a former Ghanaian professional footballer and current assistant manager of Sekondi Wise Fighters. During his career he played as a striker from 1990 until 2008 notably for Aston Villa, PSV Eindhoven, Coventry City and the Ghana national football team.
He is known foremost for his erratic career, in which he became a superstar as a teenager and then suffered a long string of failures which burnt him out well before his time. Lamptey has been used as a byword for a cautionary tale of putting too much pressure on young players to be successful.
Nii Lamptey was born in Tema, but grew up in the two biggest Ghanaian cities, Accra and Kumasi. He had a miserable childhood, as his parents abused and neglected him. His father was an alcoholic who often beat and lashed him and sometimes burnt his body with cigarettes. Lamptey often refused to spend the nights home and frequently skipped school, only finding refuge in football. Soon, he began to excel in this sport, despite his alcoholic father heckling him and hurling verbal abuse from the sidelines whenever he watched his son play football.
When Lamptey was eight, his parents divorced, and his stepfather threw him out of the household. Lamptey found refuge in a Muslim football camp and converted from Christianity to Islam to qualify for entry. When his stepfather found this out, he accused his stepson of sacrilege and often quarreled in front of the football camp. But soon, it became evident what talent young Lamptey had, and he was called up to Ghana's junior squads. He was eventually reconciled with his father – and readopted Christianity – in 1997, only to lose him to an alcohol-related illness.
He was hailed as the new Pelé and age limit rules in Belgium were changed to allow him to debut at the age of 16 for Anderlecht. Lamptey signed his first contract at Anderlecht when he was 16, becoming the youngest-ever player to play in the Belgian league.
He quickly established himself as a prolific scorer, dazzling onlookers with his flashy play and obvious talent. After two highly spectacular seasons, he was transferred, where he made a similar impact and awed fans and experts with his game.
Ron Atkinson bought Lamptey to Aston Villa in the summer of 1994. This move came as a surprise, as PSV was a more successful club than Aston Villa at the time and Lamptey was one of the star players at PSV. However, on German TV (see below), Lamptey recalled that when he came to Europe, he had signed an exclusive marketing contract with an Italian player agent. Naive as he was, he thought that the agent would only act in his best interest. In fact, the player's agent (Antonio Caliendo) was "a shady character who held Lamptey's transfer rights like a slave owner held his slave" (quote by a fellow German player agent, and an opinion also supported by Lamptey's trainer Otto Pfister). He thought only of where to sell Lamptey for the best price, to bag ~25% of the transfer sum for himself, and so he sold him to Aston Villa. Too late Lamptey realized that the exclusive contract was a trap he could not flee. He failed to impress at Villa Park, scoring just three times, all of which came in the League Cup against Wigan Athletic (once in the home leg and twice in the away leg).
Following Atkinson's dismissal as Villa boss, he re-signed Lamptey for his new club Coventry City. Again Lamptey would score his only goals in the League Cup, netting twice against Hull City (once in the home leg and once in the away leg). His time at Coventry further proved that Lamptey was not cut out for Premiership football, and another engagement in Venice was also a flop. Lamptey went on to join a string of lower status clubs. This began a vicious circle that he could not break.
Lamptey joined Venezia in Italy and later Unión de Santa Fe in Argentina. There, he and his wife had their third child, Diego. But soon, Diego died of a rare disease. A major emotional blow was also the fact that Lamptey wanted to bury his son in Ghana, but the authorities declined. Heartbroken, Lamptey temporarily gave up football. After unsuccessful stints at Ankaragücü and União Leiria, Lamptey got himself a new German player agent who transferred him to SpVgg Greuther Fürth. However, Lamptey and his wife were unhappy there, unable to live through the culture shock in Germany. Lamptey was not entirely unsuccessful, being a reliable backup, but was found too fragile for the rough Second Bundesliga. He was also reportedly ignored by his German colleagues, and once, a colleague flat out refused to sleep in the same hotel room as him. This blatant racism shocked Lamptey, but even worse was the fact that his child Lisa also died soon after birth. Also Lamptey's second dead child was buried abroad, in Germany. The Lampteys soon left for Asia.
Lamptey then joined Shandong Luneng Tai Shan in China. He described his time there as the happiest time of his life, finally being accepted and loved by fans and experts again. He then moved to Al-Nasr and then back to Ghana to Kumasi Asante Kotoko, becoming the first Ghanaian star to return to his roots again as a player.
Lamptey has said that despite everything, he does not feel like a loser, but rather as a hardened survivor who refuses to be destroyed. He has also founded a school, which bears his name and is his whole pride. As a father who has lost two kids, he wants to make other children happy and give back to society. As of 2008, his school boasts of almost 400 pupils.
Lamptey first began to attract global attention in 1991 he led Ghana to win the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship with the team known as the Black Starlets after playing in the 1989 version as a 15 year old. He won the FIFA Best Player of the tournament – the Golden Ball award in a competition that also included Argentina's Juan Sebastian Verón and Marcelo Gallardo and Italy's Alessandro del Piero, Lamptey's star shone more brilliantly than them all, as he dominated everyone in the competition. He was subsequently touted as the next Pelé; by Pelé himself. He scored four goals in that tournament.
The adidas Golden Ball could only go to one of the members of the victorious Ghanaian side, and so it was, with Lamptey taking home a very special souvenir from his Italian sojourn. Lamptey was the beating heart of a very good side. His fast feet, speed of thought, and clever interplay with captain Alex Opoku and fellow midfielders Mohammed Gargo and Emmanuel Duah were on display for all to see. His willingness to get into the box was critical too, and his four goals made him joint top-goalscorer.
In recognition of his exquisite football he displayed at the FIFA U-17 Tournament, he was named the 1991 fifth best African Footballer of the Year. Lamptey's brilliance led an enterprising and unpredictable Ghana's U-20 team, known as the "Black Satellites" to win the African U-20 Cup of Nations and then lost the final of the 1993 FIFA World Youth Championship held in Australia to Brazil, who came from a goal down to win the trophy at the death, 2–1. He also scored in the match against Portugal, which Ghana won 2–0. In the Summer of 1992, young superstar Nii Lamptey led Ghana to win a Bronze medal at the Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics football tournament. Ghana, who had the youngest team by far in the competition (the average age of the squad was 18.8 years), were surprise bronze medallists, becoming the first African nation to earn a medal. They did so in a 1–0 victory over yet another surprise, Australia. Lamptey thus led Ghana to success at any Youth International Tournament in which he played.
At just 16 years, Nii Lamptey scored on his senior debut International for Ghana in a 1992 African Cup of Nations Qualifying home match against Togo in the 43rd minute. Ghana won the match 2–0.He became a regular International and his superb performances earned him a starting spot in the "Black Stars", forming a potent attacking force together with team captain Abedi Pele and Super striker Tony Yeboah. Ghana lost the final of the 1992 African Cup of Nations to Côte d'Ivoire on a marathon penalty shoot-out in Senegal, a game the mercurial Lamptey started at just 17 years. He continued to blossom at senior International level at such a young age, playing any and every Ghana International game since then.
His international career with Ghana dried up after he was sent off in the 1996 African Cup of Nations semi-final game against South Africa on 31 January 1996. The Black Stars finished fourth, after losing to Zambia in the 3rd Place play-off game without the suspended Lamptey. Lamptey did not play for Ghana again after they lost 8–2 to Brazil in São José do Rio Preto, 27 March 1996 in a Pre-1996 Summer Olympics friendly match. Many observers believe that the numerous back and forth travels to Africa for International matches, stalled his young career at Club level. His career later went into a slump.
From the start of the 2012–13 season, a group of Coventry City fans launched a podcast entitled The Nii Lamptey Show in honour of their former player.
A DNA test revealed he was not the biological father of his three children and he is currently seeking a divorce with his wife of 20 years.
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- "Nii Lamptey Show". niilampteyshow.libsyn.com. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
- "Nii Lamptey Show". Retrieved 29 November 2013.