Sulley Muntari

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"Muntari" redirects here. For the Romanian village, see Bucium, Alba.
Sulley Muntari
Sulley muntari.jpg
Muntari with Ghana in 2008
Personal information
Full name Suleyman Ali Muntari[1]
Date of birth (1984-08-27) 27 August 1984 (age 32)[2]
Place of birth Konongo, Ashanti, Ghana
Height 1.79 m (5 ft 10 12 in)[2]
Playing position Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Free Agent
Youth career
2000–2001 Liberty Professionals
2001–2002 Udinese
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2002–2007 Udinese 125 (8)
2007–2008 Portsmouth 29 (4)
2008–2012 Internazionale 66 (7)
2011 Sunderland (loan) 9 (0)
2012 Milan (loan) 13 (3)
2012–2015 Milan 57 (8)
2015–2016 Ittihad 17 (2)
National team
2001 Ghana U20 7 (0)
2002–2014 Ghana 84 (20)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 01:26, 9 March 2016 (UTC).

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21 June 2014

Suleyman Ali "Sulley" Muntari (born 27 August 1984) is a Ghanaian professional footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Saudi Arabian club Ittihad FC.

During his time with Internazionale, he helped the team win the Champions League in 2009–10 and the Serie A title in 2008–09 and 2009–10. He was also part of the Portsmouth team that won the FA Cup in 2007–08. A full international for Ghana since 2002, he has earned over 80 caps for the national team and has been selected for two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and all three of their World Cups.

He is the elder brother of Steaua Bucharest player Sulley Muniru.[3]

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Muntari's abilities first came to light in youth tournaments, while he was playing for Liberty Professionals youth team. He became a regular member of Ghana under-20 team at the age of 16 as they finished runners-up at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina, losing out to the hosts in the final.[4] Despite impressing during a trial with Manchester United after the tournament,[5][6] he ended up joining Italian club Udinese.


He joined Udinese in 2001, where his first season was spent in the reserves. He made his first-team debut on 6 November 2002, against Milan. The Rossoneri proved too strong on the day, yet Udinese's young newcomer left an instant impression. "Muntari was immense against Milan," enthused monthly magazine Football Italia, "showing himself to possess the touch of Kaká and the combativeness of Edgar Davids, he is definitely a player to keep a close eye on."[7]

In his second full season, he made 23 appearances, and increased his standing to 33 appearances the following season,[8] although indiscipline saw him sent off three times in 16 matches in the 2006–07 season.[9] He left Udinese for Portsmouth after five seasons in Italy.


Muntari had already indicated a desire to move to the English Premier League,[10] when in early 2007 transfer bids were received from Portsmouth. He eventually opted for Portsmouth[11] and transferred on 30 May 2007, for a new club record fee, believed to be around £7.1 million, signing a five-year contract.[12][13] He was a regular member of the first XI throughout the 2007–08 season, playing 29 League matches and scoring four goals. He had his debut on 11 August 2007 against Derby County in an away game. His performance of note was away at Aston Villa where he scored two spectacular long-range goals.[14] He also played four FA Cup matches, scoring the winner from the penalty spot in a 1–0 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Sixth Round of the FA Cup. He was in the starting XI that won the 2008 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium over Cardiff City. He left Fratton Park after one season to join Internazionale.


Muntari with Inter

On 2 March 2007, it was reported in the Italian press that Internazionale were preparing a summer offer for the midfielder. Injuries to Esteban Cambiasso and Patrick Vieira underlined just how short of ball-winning midfielders the Nerazzurri were, and they would be looking to remedy the problem in June 2007. Transfer consultants Marco Branca and Gabriele Oriali were looking around Europe for possible options and Muntari seemed to be their man at the insistence of coach Roberto Mancini,[15] although Muntari ultimately went to Portsmouth in the summer of 2007. On 21 July 2008, however, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that with the probable failure of new Inter coach José Mourinho to land his former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, Muntari was now his top target central midfield target.[16] The reports gathered pace in the Italian press in the next few days that Muntari had already agreed a four-year contract with Inter.[17][18] But Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp told Sky Sports News, "I don't want to sell him. He is one of my best players and is a terrific young talent" when quizzed about Inter's supposed interest in Muntari.[19]

Muntari playing for Inter

On 24 July 2008, the BBC[20] and Gazzetta dello Sport[21] reported that Muntari would complete a €14 million plus bonuses move to Inter.[22][23] He finally completed his move to Inter on 28 July 2008 and wore the number 20 jersey,[24] previously worn by Álvaro Recoba for many years.

On 22 November 2008, Muntari scored the winner, redirecting a wayward Zlatan Ibrahimović shot, in the Derby d'Italia against rivals Juventus. Two weeks later, Muntari scored a backheel goal against Napoli at the San Siro after a great cross from Maicon, a match that ended 2–1 for Inter. In the very last Serie A match of the season, on 31 May 2009 against Atalanta, he opened the scoring for Inter after blasting in a Luís Figo cross from outside the penalty box. Later, his shot on goal was parried by the goalkeeper, but Esteban Cambiasso scored from the rebound to make the score 3–3. Inter eventually won 4–3 and Muntari won his first Scudetto after his first season with the club.

In August 2009, José Mourinho again found himself causing controversy after commenting that Muntari, a practicing Muslim, was lacking fitness and energy due to fasting during the month of Ramadan. He was reported to have said "Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan, perhaps with this heat it's not good for him to be doing this fasting. Ramadan has not arrived at the ideal moment for a player to play a football match."[25] However, since these comments, many Muslims and non-Muslims have come out in defence of Mourinho, saying that no offense was meant towards the player, but while the manager could have been more tactful in his treatment of the issue it stands to reason that a lack of food and water will affect a player's stamina and energy level.[25]

On 15 January 2011, Inter Technical Director Marco Branca confirmed Muntari had handed in an official transfer request. A number of Premier League clubs were speculated to be interested in Muntari.

Sunderland (loan)[edit]

On 26 January 2011, Premier League club Sunderland were given permission to hold talks with Muntari,[26] and on 29 January, he signed for Sunderland on loan from Inter until the end of the 2011–12 season.[27] On 7 May 2011, he was initially credited with his first and only goal in a 2–1 win over Bolton Wanderers, but this was subsequently recorded as a Zat Knight own goal.[28]

On 13 May 2011, Sunderland opted not to sign Muntari on a permanent basis, and he returned to Inter.[29]


2011–12 season[edit]

Muntari (left) with Milan teammates El Shaarawy (center) and Traoré (far right)

On 31 January 2012, Muntari joined Milan on loan. On 19 February 2012, Muntari scored his first goal as a Milan player on his debut, in a Serie A away match against Cesena, which Milan won 3–1. On 25 February 2012, Muntari appeared to have scored an infamous header against Juventus from a cross of Urby Emanuelson, but the goal was disallowed despite clearly crossing the line by a distance that was later technologically measured to be over 30 centimetres (12 in); the match ended 1–1. Juventus went on to win the Serie A title that year, beating Milan to the Scudetto by four points, with many seeing the goal controversy as the biggest moment of the title race. On 10 April 2012, he scored the only goal in a Milan win at Chievo, giving his team an edge in the title race. On 2 May 2012, Muntari scored a goal against Atalanta in a game that ended 2–0, bringing Milan one point behind leaders Juve.

Massimiliano Allegri said to Milan Channel in May 2012 that Muntari would play with Milan for a further two years until June 2014. Muntari officially signed for Milan on a free transfer after his Inter contract expired on 1 July 2012.

2012–13 season[edit]

While on holiday in the off-season, Muntari picked up a knee injury playing beach football that could keep him out for the entire first half of the 2012–13 season. On 20 February 2013, Muntari scored a goal to give Milan a two-goal lead against Barcelona ahead of the second leg in the last 16 tie in the UEFA Champions League.[30] However, it was not enough as Barcelona knocked Milan out in the return leg at the Camp Nou, 4–0 and 4–2 on aggregate.

On 8 May 2013, Muntari scored his first goal in 2012–13 season in a match against Pescara, which Milan won 4–0.[31] Later that month, he was fined €10,000 and suspended for two matches after being sent off during a game against Roma for manhandling referee Gianluca Rocchi whilst protesting a call.[32][33]

2013–14 season[edit]

On 6 October, Muntari put on an impressive performance for Milan as he scored two goals against Juventus, though Juventus went on to win the game 3–2.[34] On 16 December Muntari scored a late goal against Roma to salvage a 2–2 draw.[35] He was then sent in the following match against former club Inter when he hit Zdravko Kuzmanović, receiving a three-match ban.[36] On 18 May, Muntari helped Milan win the three points against Sassuolo when Muntari scored a goal and helped Milan win the match 2-1.[34]

2014–15 season[edit]

On 18 June 2014, Muntari signed a new two-year contract with Milan.[37] On 31 August 2014, Muntari scored in Milan's opening game in the 2014–15 Serie A as Milan beat Lazio 3–1. On 4 October, Muntari contributed to Milan's 2–0 win against Chievo by scoring the opening goal of the game.[34] He was released by mutual consent on 30 June 2015.[38]

Ittihad FC[edit]

On 28 July 2015, Muntari joined Saudi league team Ittihad FC on a two-year deal A contract worth €6 million.[39]

International career[edit]


Muntari represented Black Starlets at 2001 UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup, including a 1–1 draw with Portugal[40] and losing to Italy 0–1.[41]

Muntari then was chosen for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship as Ghana took second place.


Muntari dribbling the ball past opposition

He won his first senior cap against Slovenia on 17 May 2002, and became a regular fixture in the team as The Black Stars opened their 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. He was selected for the Olympic side at Athens 2004, but was sent home for disciplinary reasons.[42] This started a dispute between Muntari and the Ghana Football Association (GFA), and he said that he would refuse to play for his country again, setting the "record" for the youngest international retirement.[43] He retracted, making a public apology to the Association,[44] and was selected for the 2006 World Cup squad. He played in the first two matches, a 2–0 defeat by Italy and a 2–0 win over the Czech Republic, in which he scored, but having received a yellow cards in each game. He was suspended for the game against the United States, but returned for the second round match against Brazil, in which Ghana was eliminated.

Muntari preparing to take a free kick at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations

He remained a regular member of the team, and appeared in the 2008 African Cup of Nations side, scoring the winner in the first group match against Guinea and the second goal in the last group match against Morocco. He scored his third goal of the tournament when he scored a free-kick against Côte d'Ivoire in the third-place play-off. His goal against Guinea, a 25-metre left-footed pile-driver in the 89th minute, was voted one of the Best Goals of the Tournament.[45]

He was voted as an All-Star Player during the 2008 African Cup of Nations Tournament in Ghana. The Team of the Tournament was decided by the Technical Study Group (TSG) after careful observations of all the tournament's matches.[46]

Muntari in action for Ghana

Although expected to play for Ghana in the 2010 African Cup of Nations in Angola, Muntari was excluded from the national team due to disciplinary problems. After purposefully missing an international friendly against Angola, he also snubbed a meeting with coach Milovan Rajevac.[47] Muntari later issued a full apology to his country and coach.[48]

Muntari was selected for Ghana's 2010 World Cup squad. After not being included in the starting line-up for the team's first two matches, Muntari was reportedly expelled from the squad for insulting Rajevac and his teammates.[49] However, after an intervention by former captain Stephen Appiah, he was reinstated[50] and went on to make two further substitute appearances against Germany and the United States before starting the quarter-final against Uruguay in place of the suspended André Ayew. During the match, Muntari scored a long-range effort in first half stoppage time, putting Ghana ahead 1–0 at half-time.

On 2 June 2014, Muntari was named in Ghana's squad for the 2014 World Cup.[51] In the team's opening match, he was in the starting line-up for the Black Stars against the United States in a 2–1 defeat.[52]

Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng were sent home from the Black Stars camp in Brazil and suspended from the Ghana squad on 26 June 2014 for disciplinary reasons, only hours before the final Group match against Portugal. Muntari reportedly assaulted Moses Armah, a member of former manager James Kwesi Appiah's coaching staff.[53][54]

Style of play[edit]

A former left-back,[55] Muntari later developed into a powerful, hard-working, and tenacious midfielder; although he is primarily known for his physical strength and combative playing style, he was also able to make notable improvements to his technical skills throughout his career.[7] He also possesses a good left-foot, a powerful shot from outside the area, and is a solid passer of the ball.[56][57] He primarily excels as a ball-winner, due to his energy, tactical intelligence, and ability to break down the opposition's play; a versatile footballer, although he is usually deployed as a defensive, central, or box-to-box midfielder, he is also capable of playing as a left winger or even as an attacking midfielder.[56][58][59] Due to his aggressive and hard-tackling style of play, however, he has also been criticised for his tendency to pick up cards.[58][60]

Personal life[edit]

In December 2010, Muntari married Ghanaian businesswoman Menaye Donkor.[61][62] He is a practising Muslim. He observes fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan.[63] His younger brother is Sulley Muniru, who plays in the Romanian Liga I.[3]

Career statistics[edit]


As of match played on 11 July 2015[64]
Club Season League Cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Udinese 2002–03 Serie A 12 0 2 0 14 0
2003–04 Serie A 23 0 4 0 1[a] 0 28 0
2004–05 Serie A 33 2 6 0 2[b] 0 41 2
2005–06 Serie A 29 3 0 0 11[c] 0 40 3
2006–07 Serie A 28 3 2 1 30 4
Total 125 8 14 1 14 0 153 9
Portsmouth 2007–08 Premier League 29 4 4 1 33 5
Total 29 4 4 1 33 5
Internazionale 2008–09 Serie A 27 4 3 0 7[a] 1 1[d] 1 38 5
2009–10 Serie A 27 2 5 0 9[a] 0 1[d] 0 42 2
2010–11 Serie A 8 1 1 0 3[a] 0 1[e] 0 13 1
2011–12 Serie A 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Total 66 7 9 0 19 0 3 1 97 8
Sunderland (loan) 2010–11 Premier League 9 0 0 0 9 0
Total 9 0 0 0 9 0
Milan (loan) 2011–12 Serie A 13 3 1 0 0 0 14 3
Milan 2012–13 Serie A 15 1 1 0 2[a] 1 18 2
2013–14 Serie A 26 5 0 0 8[a] 1 34 6
2014–15 Serie A 16 2 1 0 17 2
Total 70 11 3 0 10 2 83 13
Al-Ittihad 2015–16 Saudi Professional League 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0
Career total 298 30 30 2 43 2 3 1 375 35
  1. ^ a b c d e f Appearances in UEFA Champions League
  2. ^ Appearances in UEFA Europa League
  3. ^ 8 appearances in UEFA Champions League and 3 appearances in UEFA Europa League
  4. ^ a b Appearances in Italian Supercup
  5. ^ Appearances in FIFA Club World Cup


Ghana senior team
Year Apps Goals
2002 2 0
2003 1 0
2004 5 1
2005 6 2
2006 11 3
2007 8 2
2008 12 4
2009 6 2
2010 6 2
2011 10 1
2012 8 1
2013 5 2
2014 4 0
Total 84 20
As of 21 June 2014[65]


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External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
John Mensah
Ghana national football team captain
Succeeded by
Asamoah Gyan