A teammate of Mario Gotze & Shkodran Mustafi for Germany – but Hearts new boy Lennard Sowah hopes Tynecastle switch can ignite Ghana dream



LENNARD SOWAH starred alongside Mario Gotze as part of the golden generation that would go on to lift the World Cup for Germany – but he hopes his move to Hearts will help him realise his dream of playing for Ghana.

Sowah, who joined the Jambos earlier this month after turning down a new deal with Hamilton, was considered a precocious teenager when he was on the books of Arsenal and starring for Die Mannschaft at youth level.

He counts Gunners ace Shkodran Mustafi and Gotze – the man that would go on to score the only goal against Argentina in 2014 as Germany won the biggest prize of all – among former teammates in the national set-up.

However, with both of his parents hailing from Accra, and as a regular visitor to Ghana, he is now keen to catch the eye of the Black Stars.

“I played alongside Mustafi in the national team when we were around about 17 and I played with Gotze for a few games,” he recalled. “It was, of course, nice to play at youth level for your country but my parents are from Ghana and I would like to play for them now.

“I was born in Germany so it will always be a proud moment to have played for them and to watch those players win the World Cup – especially the ones I know personally. But Ghana is a hope of mine.

“It is not up to me, all I can do is play to my best for Hearts and hopefully I will get the call from them one day. I was over in Ghana during the summer on holiday so it is a place I feel close to. My parents are from Accra and playing for Ghana is a massive personal goal.

“I want to be solid for Hearts, play games and help the team forward. I believe that everything will fall into place if I do that.

“This club already has two players in the African Cup of Nations [Arnaud Djoum, Cameroon, and Faycal Rherras, Morocco] so that shows this is a good platform.”

His African dream hinges on once again impressing the very man who gave him a debut in senior football.

Avram Grant fielded Sowah as a fresh-faced 17-year-old while in charge of Portsmouth, allowing the youngster to hone his skills in the same side as the likes of David James, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Kanu.

Grant is now in charge of Ghana and – while not expecting any old pals’ act – the experienced manager will undoubtedly be inclined to take notice of one of his former players if he can dazzle for the Jambos.

Sowah continued: “Avram Grant gave me my debut at Portsmouth as a teenager and he is now the Ghana coach. I don’t think that will make it any easier to get into the team – it is about proving you are good enough on the pitch.

“However, we did have a good relationship. I was a young lad and he spoke to me and supported me.

“On the pitch he would tell me the things I was doing well and give me advice. I was training with older players and he showed a lot of faith in me. I knew I could play football, but I didn’t expect to be put in the team at such a young age and I was really happy about that.”

Sowah could make his Hearts debut against Raith Rovers this afternoon and, while international aspirations may drive him on, his immediate concern is kick-starting his career in Scotland following an underwhelming first half of the season at Hamilton.

He added: “I think I did well, but I had an injury in my hamstring and I missed a couple of games. I wish I could have played more – any player would be the same.

“Hamilton did offer me a contract, but I sat down with them and went through everything and talked to my family. It wasn’t an easy decision because I felt good at Hamilton. The gaffer [Martin Canning] was a nice guy and I felt good with the team.

“But for me it was a feeling that it was time to try and take the next step – especially when I heard Hearts were interested.”