Long before daddy and mummy Asamoah Gyan met to fuse together under the April sky, a gentleman called Peter Lamptey was stealing and banging in the goals with precision, alacrity and consummate ease for the Baby Jet would have been unfit any day, anytime anywhere to loosen the lace of Peter’s soccer shoes.
He was so much of a ‘goal thief’ that it was playfully rumoured back in the day in the 1970s that, the moment he crossed defenders’ path with sheer speed and vigour in the 18-yard box, immortal eyes could not decipher how else he planted the goal in that, his scoring instincts were a replica of thievery.
With such a terrible reputation of turning defenders and goalkeepers’ days into nights, Ghana’s celebrated sportswriter Oheneba Charles then of SPORTING NEWS fame nicknamed him GOAL THIEF. Ever since, the accolade has stuck. First with his body, then bones, and now marrow in such a manner that not even wicked death can erase.
But as our elders say, the giant baobab tree started life as a tiny seed until it grew those bumpy and rough surfaces along its trunk, and then dividing at the top to spread nicely like woodlots habituating green leaves of charm. Such was Peter Lamptey’s upbringing.
And as he walks through Accra’s streets unnoticed, heaven is sure to punish those who ignore his presence and take him for nobody, when the good Lord, in his own wisdom chose to imbue him with a sense of goal-scoring instincts that came to him with nonchalant ease.
He was born Peter LANTE Lamptey at Bukom Square (the only son of a huge family of females) to Owusu Odartey Lamptey a fisherman, and Leticia Lartekai Lamptey a fishmonger on April 6, 1947. The correlation between a fisherman and a fishmonger aside, Peter was only five or six years old when his dad fell off his canoe in the high seas and drowned.
Somehow he was rescued by his fisher-folks before death could strike. Following that, he was whisked to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where after just three days and three nights, he gave up the ghost. It meant in the Ghanaian parlance that he needed to start off life as a minor, having to climb his mountain twice.
As the only male child, Peter, upon whose shoulders mummy Lartekai had hoped to build her empire had to be the example. He became the classic example and started off school at the local Sempe Primary near James Town in 1953, completing in 1962. He enrolled at the Menso College of Commerce immediately after, and did three years of certificate work earning him a typist job in the process at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in 1965.
Peter had a chequered marriage life in Lamiley and some two others, and by the time he retired from child-bearing he had had a total of eight children. This is the line up; first is Koshie, then Odartey, next Odarkor, then Lante Jnr (who attended Adisadel College on scholarship just by mentioning his dad’s name), Odartey the returnee soccer player from Poland, Jennifer, Koshie and yet another completing the roll.
But soccer first came to Peter when the scent of breast first lingered in his mouth at a tender age. His first juvenile club was Ghana Stars then at Agboado, then Bukom Park Rangers, then Dundee United at Bukom Square, and finally with Aggrey Fynn Stars also at Bukom.
But it was at Aggrey Fynn Stars that he literally walked into relative stardom. The team trekked to Tema to do battle with Tema Town XI in an encounter, watched by no less a personality other than the chief of Tema then. Our elders say, a child who will grow up to be a professional driver will always ask for the price of a tyre, while feigning to hold the steering wheel. Peter fitted this description.
He rattled in four unanswered goals to the shock and amazement of everyone present that, after the 90 minutes he had warmed the cockles of the heart of the big royal, who lost no time in calling for a re-match, this time, with a strengthened Tema Hurricane side shaded yellow with maturity yet endowed with brawn.
‘Peter the thief’ yet again disregarded the form-guide of older players including Dr. Sabaa Hammond, Ayi Armah, Adjei Arko, Pat Nigger and a whole gamut of stars in Great Olympics’ pay to score a great goal, that left an indelible impression on the minds of all who watched that noon. That was in 1964.
Pretty soon, both Great Olympics and Hearts of Oak came chasing and in order not to be like the dog that attempted answering two calls at once and ended up breaking its jaw, Peter responded to that of Hearts, whose team manager of a Mr. Annan was to disappoint on the grounds that, Peter was a toddler in the game.
“I was extremely disappointed for on that justify-your-inclusion day, I met Abeka Ankrah, Robert Foley, Joe Ghartey, Joe Dakota, George ‘Ga Mantse’ Alhassan and a tall list of senior players and so I was not selected”, Peter said showcasing a smile spotted in those good days in the 1970s when the prospect of a goal made his eyes glitter.
But what had been a despicable chalice to Hearts of Oak obviously became red-hot preciousness to Great Olympics, whose GBC-man called Mr. Bannerman moved to get him signed on, having been prompted by national and Olympics’ goalkeeper John Naawu, Peter’s colleague at GBC.
LIFE AT OLYMPICS
The magnificent Lamptey arrived at Olympics under a blaze of publicity, and in his first training when the reserve side played the regulars spotting Jones Attuquayefio, Haruna USA, Joe Assani, Joe Cobblah, goalkeeper Fred Tetteh, Sabaa Hammond, Peter was a huge sensation. He scored three goals in 15 minutes, necessitating a change to the regular side to re-prove himself all within 90 minutes.
On being brought over to the regular side he again netted three goals of great class, compelling club chairman D. N. A labi and coach Mama and deputy, Alex Adjei to ghost onto cloud nine hitting the heavenly roof with their shoulders. And so in sunshine and in rain, biblical Peter strode on from 1965 till the magical year of 1971.
By 1971 he had matured from the first flowering to a matured cob, and had helped Great Olympics play 43 matches on an unbeaten run finishing in a semi-final berth in the Africa Clubs Championship date against the red porcupine reds.
Olympics paraded Fred Tetteh, Edward Boye, Bannerman Afful, Assani strongman, Haruna USA, Oman Mensah and Ago Nai, Joe Cobblah, Adjei Arko, Peter Lamptey, Jones Attuquayefio and Sabaa Hammond. Kotoko replied to the toast with Essel Mensah in goal, Dan Oppong, Oliver Acquah, Ohene Brenya, Clifford Odame, Sunday Ibrahim, Albert Essuman, Yaw Sam, Abukari Gariba, Kwame Nti and Malik Jabir.
Of course Kotoko won 1-0 over two legs but the circumstances surrounding the defeat were nauseating, for the reds subjected them to severe beatings following earlier threats of violence, compelling Attuquayefio to feign injury after just 11 minutes of play while Olympics volunteered to play it soft.
DRIFT TO HEARTS OF OAK
Peter arrived at Hearts of Oak on the wings of an unfortunate development. Olympics supporters had accused him of playing it soft against Hearts in a Ga Mantse Cup match in 1972, when his measured screw of a goal chance failed to beat gigantic goalkeeper Sannie Abdulai, and ended up on top of the roof. Olympics lost 0-1.
The confusion that ensued fetched a casualty in his mother, Leticia, whose Homowo soup pot was booted down and broken by irate Olympics supporters at the London Market, spilling all its spoils in the process. “It made my mother weep and she kicked against my continued stay at the club, which meant that I had to vacate Olympics for some other club”, Peter recollected.
He informed that he had wanted to opt for Ebusua Dwarfs because his friends of Alex Mingle and Edward Boye were with Dwarfs even though students at Saint Augustine’s College Cape Coast. But while Oly virtually drove him away, Hearts of Oak’s crop of stakeholders pulled up in a car spotting H.P. Nyemetei, Tommy Thompson, George Osekre, Lawyer Ofei who first took him to his mummy, before whisking him straight off to horse owner and phobian Asante Sakyi’s house.
Some four days elapsed and pretty soon, player-registration was due and in a tense atmosphere on registration day, Peter opted to play for Hearts ahead of Olympics. It sent phobians around the Osu Stadium on a jubilation spree. What followed was like a banquet in heaven, for Peter was treated like a king underneath the Oak tree.
In 1972 he was part of the Black Stars squad that went to the Munich Olympic Games and by the following year when the SWAG instituted the goal-king award, he walked away with 26 goals over 21 matches. Indeed had the tally lads been adept at their job, Peter could have annexed 28 goals and lost two goals that were credited to Robert Hammond and the late Mama Acquah.
Today, the ‘goal thief’ has assembled a crop of lads he teaches the techniques and principles of goal-scoring, but it is a venture he earns nothing in return for in the commercial sense, as he walks from his Bubuashie habitat to Indadfa Park to conduct goal-poaching lessons.
Dear phobians, this is your ‘goal thief’ and the moment we tapped from his basin of goals to fertilize the Oak tree, the better it will be for the upward growth of the century-old tree.