He left Ghana without most of his family knowing
When the time came for Thomas to make the move from Ghana to Spain, he left very suddenly. His father was a football coach and, together with Thomas’ agent, had been planning his exit from Ghanaian second division side Tema Youth. One day Thomas was driven to the Ghanaian capital of Accra, handed his passport and told he’d be leaving there and then. The rest of his family found out once Thomas was already in Spain, where he signed with Atletico Madrid!
Michael Essien was his idol
When Thomas was starting out on his journey to professional football, the player he looked up to the most was Michael Essien. Thomas has spoken about the admiration he had for his fellow Ghanaian, while former Real Madrid midfielder Essien has also raved about Thomas’ qualities in various interviews, even saying that he’d have loved if the two midfielders could have played together for the Black Stars.
He’s one of the most versatile players in European football
Some fans might not know just how versatile a player Thomas is. His natural position is in defensive midfield, but he has also been used on occasion as an attacking midfielder, as a winger, as a centre-back, as a full-back and even as a striker. When playing for Ghana, he tends to play in a more attacking role and even scored a hat-trick for his country in a World Cup qualifier against Congo.
His nickname as a kid was ‘Senegal’
He may be from Ghana, but Thomas’s nickname growing up was “Senegal.” When playing for his father’s team in Odumase Krobo (in eastern Ghana), he was given the nickname because his style of play reminded his father of a friend whose name was Senegal.
- He was born in Odumase Krobo (Ghana) on June 13, 1993 and grew up playing in teams from his home town.
- He’s the oldest of eight children in his family.
- His father runs and trains a team in Odumase Krobo, where Thomas started playing until he was nine.
- While playing for that team, his father gave him the nickname “Senegal”, because he reminded him of a friend with the same name.
- After playing for his father’s team, Thomas developed as a footballer in a neighbourhood side while waiting for new opportunities.
- The chance to take a big step up came when Tema Youth, a Ghanaian team from Division Two, spotted him. With them he experienced a promotion play-off to the Ghanaian top flight.
- His performances were noted by the scouts and glowing reports about his abilities swept through the country. Thomas has said an agent registered interested with him in 2011 despite never having seen him play.
- His agent quickly saw his potential and decided to take him to Spain, where he was given a trial with the Atletico Madrid youth academy. The Rojiblanco coaching staff did not hesitate to sign him.
- In four months, he made the leap from their Under 18s to the Under 19s, and a season later he was already in the ‘Colchonero’ second team. He was loaned out to RCD Mallorca and Almeria before Diego Simeone would give him a run in the first team.
• He co-owns a football clu
A star for one Madrid club, he co-owns another. Thomas, along with several partners, acquired Alcobendas Sport, a side in the city’s northern suburbs currently playing in the fourth tier, in 2019. The side has become a home for several players making their own journey from African to Spanish football, with these up-and-coming talents able to benefit from Thomas’ expertise.