AC Milan: The Unexpected Rise of Kevin-Prince Boateng

Frank TiganiCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2010

MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 04:  Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan celebrates scoring the first goa lduring the Serie A match between Milan and Brescia at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 4, 2010 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

The signing of Kevin Prince Boateng in the summer did little to raise hopes about Milan’s upcoming campaign. At this stage the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho had not yet materialised and the Milan roster was looking decidedly average. In fact, before the arrivals of the aforementioned two, the Milan squad was quite possibly the weakest ever since Silvio Berlusconi took over in 1985.

Little was known about Kevin Prince Boateng upon his arrival in Milan. However, what was known was that he was neither an up-and-coming star of the game nor a seasoned world beater. Instead, at the age of 23 years old, he was a player whose career had failed to take off and who was running out of time to do so.

Born in Germany to a German mother and Ghanaian father, Boateng learned his trade with Hertha Berlin. After being promoted to the senior side in 2004, he became a regular for the Berlin club before trying his luck with Tottenham in the English Premier League.

During his spell at White Hart Lane, Boateng failed to make an impression with Martin Jol, Juande Ramos or Harry Redknapp who loaned him to Borussia Dortmund. Henceforth, it was on to lowly Portsmouth before Genoa snapped him up the summer gone only to loan him straight to Milan.

It was not only at club level that Boateng failed to make an impact. After playing at every youth level for the German national side, Boateng was continually denied a chance to play for his nation of birth at senior level and hence opted to play for the nation of his father’s origin.

This was another sobering fact that Kevin Prince Boateng brought with him to Milan. He was not only a player that had failed to prove himself at club level, but also a player who had to opt to play for Ghana if he wanted to play international football after failing to make the grade for the German side.  

It was with reason that little excitement accompanied his arrival in Milan.

But, Prince, as he has come to be known, has undoubtedly been one of Milan’s better performers in a season that so far has seen the radical transformation of Milan from an outfit of has-beens and nearly men to an outfit that look hot favourites for the Scudetto.

Amongst all the old legs of the Rossoneri, Prince’s energy, dynamism and hunger have been a sight of welcome relief to Milan’s fans in which he has become a favourite of in a very short time.

Able to play in different roles, Prince has also proved to be an invaluable member of the side to new coach Max Allegri.  

Nonetheless, it has only been in Milan’s last two Serie A outings that Prince has really started to make an impact. Playing in a role normally accustomed to a Kaka-type player, Prince started against Brescia ten days ago and went on to have one of his best performances for his new club which included his first goal for his new club in a comprehensive 3-0 win.

After Allegri’s successful experiment with Prince playing in the hole behind the strikers, he again opted to start with Prince in the same role against Bologna at the weekend. And again, it was the same result. Not only did Prince manage to score again, but he played in a delightful pass onto the running Robinho for Milan’s second goal.

Milan have been getting stronger as the season has progressed. But, it has been in the last two games that Max Allegri’s side have displayed an aura of champions about them. Kevin-Prince Boateng’s inclusion in these two games and his significant contribution in both should ensure that the young Ghanaian international is set to feature more in the matches ahead.

Certainly, if Prince keeps his current form up Allegri will have no choice but to keep choosing him. With Clarence Seedorf—the only other alternative for Prince’s role—only getting older and with his physical limitations becoming ever more apparent, the stage is set for Prince to finally make the impact his career has lacked and so far so good, though it is early days.