Oliver Arthur: The indigenous agent rewriting the history of African football

Afriyie Acquah and Oliver Arthur

It was the final day of 2018 Summer transfer window, I was in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). I had been in the City with a Ghanaian player trying to get him a deal. He had trained with some lower tier clubs and they had shown interest in him. However, his pedigree was above the amateur league so I was contemplating about getting him a Pro League club, just then, one name came into my mind and it was renowned Ghanaian football player agent Oliver Arthur. I first spoke to two of his players who are my close friends and they gave me his contact to get in touch with him.

One bright Thursday morning as I was in a speed train from Nakheel to Marina, I sent Oliver a Whatsapp message, he was not online yet and there was no response. As I reached my apartment, my phone rang and loo and behold Oliver was on the line. As someone who has a big dream of becoming a renowned Fifa agent, talking with Oliver was a dream come true. We spoke about lots of things and some of the things he said still echoe in my mind.

“It is a great business and it deals with passion, there are ups and downs. The major ingredient in this job is TRUST. Once you promise a club a player, you must deliver. I can see you are very passionate about it, you will succeed,” Oliver told me in his humble voice.

“About the player you proposed, I could have gotten him a Pro Club in Dubai (UAE), I watched his video you sent me and he looks good. But unfortunately, my links in UAE is no more. I promised a club a player, they sent an invite but the player got injured and could not go so this strained my links there.”

At a time many people see football business as shrewd with others having the notion that it lacks transparency and is only done by cunning business gurus,  Oliver Arthur, who is undoubtedly one of Africa’s super agents has carved a niche for himself as someone you can rely on.

Some of the young players in Italy who are handled by Oliver

In fact, Oliver’s journey to being a hot shot in the industry was not by mistake. As a football enthusiast and a Travel and Tour Company owner, he was the right-hand man of Ghana’s best football administrator ever, the late Alhaji Ibrahim Sly Tetteh of Liberty Professionals fame. Oliver was responsible for the Visas which took Sulley Muntari to Udinese, Michael Essien to Bastia, Derek Boateng to Kalamata, John Paintsil to Israel and a host of others.

After several years of building his capacity and links, Oliver decided to enter the football business full time in 2006. He wrote the then FIFA agent license exams and passed after which he was given the power to operate. That same summer (July, 2006), he did his first transfer, he brought then 16-year-old attacker Innocent Tano Azian whom he had scouted in Sunyani to Udinese for trials. The player passed the test and was offered a contract.

The next summer, he brought Daniel Kofi Agyei to Fiorentina and Godfred Adofo to Parma and both were signed. Oliver began to build more contacts in Italy as his stock soared.

He is responsible for bringing about 90 percent of the Ghanaian players in Italy there, but typical of African footballers, some of them have signed for other agents because of greed and ungratefulness.

Currently, Oliver has close to 40 Ghanaian players under his Arthur Legacy Player Agency Company with his biggest stars being  Afriyie Acquah and Red Star Belgrade striker Richmond Boakye. Other players under his fold also includes Isaac Cofie, Godfred Adofo, Patrick Asmah and Carl Davordzie.

Over the past years, Oliver has spread his tentacles to Nigeria. He has scouts all over the most populous country in West Africa from Kano in the north to Bayelsa in the south and as at now he has been able to send as many as eight Nigerian young players  to Italy. They include Orji Okwonkwo and Kingsley Michael both at Bologna. He is also in the process of moving to other countries.

Oliver and his Nigerian player Orji Okwonkwo

With football agent business being perceived as a job for the whites previously, Oliver is currently rewriting history in African football as he has put up good structures to help get the best football talents from Africa and transform their lives.

He has a unique network which consists of paid scouts in every region of Ghana, this helps him to get all the quality players through out the country.

Last year (2018), Oliver established his own football Academy in Accra named EuroAfrica Calcio Academy in an effort to get enough quality talents and train them for the European market. The players who are currently numbering 50 are housed in Kings Cottage, which is one of the plush environs in Accra.

The main target of Oliver over the past years has been youth football and now he has some of the best African teenage players all over Europe. He has Edmund Addo at FK Senica in Slovakia, Carl Davordzie and Ahmed Awuah at Parma, Rahim Abdul Razak at Birmingham City, Brian Oddei at Sassuolo and a host of others

Oliver’s relationship with his players goes beyond the normal “player and agent” stuff. He is in touch with almost all the family of his players as he continues to change perception about the business. Just before last season ended, he was seen at the stands of the Empoli Stadium with the mother of his client Afriyie Acquah.

Oliver and Afriyie Acquah’s mother

Undoubtedly, the likes of Pini Zahavi, Jorge Mendes, and Mino Raiola are making waves with European and South American players but in Africa, we certainly have a young ambitious agent in the person of Oliver Arthur who is gradually cutting his own path and proving that native African agents can do it also.

There are certainly lots of things I fancy about Oliver; his in-depth knowledge in the job, his humility, his loyalty and above all his intelligence.

Feature by Edmund Okai Gyimah – Chief Football Writer, Daily Mail GH

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