Thomas Partey: The Coach Who Discovered Him And How He Became A Defensive Midfielder

Thomas Partey (image via Twitter/Arsenal)

Thomas Partey’s move to Arsenal is arguably the biggest transfer deal ever signed by any Ghanaian footballer since Michael Essien’s move to Chelsea in 2005.

Partey’s transfer deal broke the record held by Essien to become most expensive Ghanaian signing. The Blues paid a fee of £24.4 million to Lyon for Essien.

The 27-year-old, who also looked up to Essien when he was young, joined Arsenal on transfer deadline day (October 5, 2020) after the Gunners triggered his £45 million release from Atletico Madrid.

Partey is regarded as one of the best midfielders in Europe at the moment. According to, Thomas Partey completed the best dribble success rate in Europe’s top 5 leagues in the 2019/20 season.

He recorded a dribble success rate of 88.6%, better than Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic (86.6%) and Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara (85.5%).

Before moving to Arsenal, he was also linked to other top European clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and PSG.

Partey had also been a loyal protégé of Atletico Madrid manager, Diego Simeone, before joining Arsenal. He had been with Atletico since 2012, making 188 appearances, and winning both the Europa League and Super Cup in 2018, and was also a Champions League runner-up in 2016.

Thomas Partey with the Europa League trophy

However, Partey didn’t start his career in Spain. He started playing football in Ghana and the club a lot of Ghanaians know he played for is Tema Youth, which he helped gain promotion from the lower division to the Ghana Premier League.

But before Tema Youth, Partey played for Revelation FC, a club in Ashaiman (a town in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana).

He was discovered by the coach of the Ashaiman-based club, Coach Issaka Ibrahim Kodzo, who told in an interview that he scouted Partey when he was “about 10-years-old.”

Coach Issaka Ibrahim Kodzo (middle) with two other footballers he trained at Revelation FC: Moses Odjer (left) who now plays for Palermo in Italy and Francis Narh (right) who now plays for FC Slavia Mozyr in Belarus

“We scouted him with a match,” Coach Issaka said.

“We played a match against his colts team from Krobo-Odumase and we saw him… they were many, and we took almost about 15 to 18 players from the club.”

“When he was brought to Ashaiman, he started with the U-12s and he was later promoted to the U-14s.”

“He spent a lot of time with us before moving to Tema youth. We did well to make sure that he and the other boys become mature players that will fit in any Ghana Premier League, First Division or Second Division team.”

Thomas Partey with Coach Issaka Ibrahim Kodzo on his left and his teammates during his time at Revelation FC

Coach Issaka also revealed that Partey was not a midfielder when he discovered him. According to him, Partey was a striker when he was scouted. Coach Issaka, however, indicated that he and his fellow coaches transformed Thomas into a defensive midfielder.

“Partey was a striker that we took him in. So we are the ones who made him a defensive midfielder, yeah Revelation made him a defensive midfielder,” he said.

“While we were grooming him at Revelation, we identified that he loved tackling, giving long-range passes and also liked shooting the ball a lot and he was also a good free-kick taker.”

“He was part of a number of boys who were recruited as strikers. So we decided to push some of them to other positions and judging by Partey’s qualities, we thought he would flourish in defensive midfield.”

“So he and a certain guy nicknamed Figo, they were both strikers and we trained them to become midfielders.”

“It was the qualities that we saw in him that made us take that decision and we knew he was going to be a great player, and today, here we are and we just thank God Almighty for the player he is now.”

Thomas Partey (middle) and his Revelation FC teammates Moses Odjer (left) who now plays for Palermo in Italy and Francis Narh (right) who now plays for FC Slavia Mozyr in Belarus

As someone who trained Partey when he was young, Coach Issaka describes Partey as a footballer with a “tough mentality.”

“As for Partey, he’s very quiet, he’s humble, he’s well disciplined, and he has a tough mentality.”

“Partey is a very quiet guy and he respects everybody. When it’s time for him to joke, he cracks jokes a lot, and if he doesn’t feel like doing it, he’s just quiet.”

“And as for him, he doesn’t joke with training, he was always serious about training,” Coach Issaka added.

Coach Issaka also indicated that he’s always excited when he watches Partey on TV playing in big games.

“I feel fulfilled and proud that I made an impact in his football career.”

On Partey’s move to Arsenal, Coach Issaka said: “I am happy about him going to Arsenal and I pray he does big things with the club.”

source: Pilot Sedode/

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