?The King? has arrived in Columbus. LeBron James? No, not that king. It?s Harrison Afful, a right back from Ghana that Crew SC signed to shore up its defense.
Afful, 29, arrives from Tunisia?s top league with his own nickname: The King.
?A king is always at the top,? Afful said. ?That is what I believe in. A king is somebody who you pay respect to, and I think I?ve got those qualities. I?ve got the quality and God-given talent, so that is why I chose ?The King,? because I?m kind of a person who is very humble, very down to earth. I make sure that I respect people when they give me that respect back.?
Afful most recently played for ES Tunis, for which he made 173 appearances across all competitions during a six-year career. He also has represented Ghana in the 2014 World Cup, the Africa Cup of Nations and the CAF Champions League.
In the CAF Champions League, the biggest club tournament in Africa, Afful helped ES Tunis win the 2011 title by scoring the lone goal of the two-game series to determine the champion.
But when his contract with the Tunisian club expired on June 30, Afful said he sought a new challenge. Multiple reports from Ghana indicated that he had suitors in Portugal and with several Arabic teams before deciding to join the Crew on the advice of Joe Addo, a former Ghana national team captain who was acquainted with coach Gregg Berhalter.
?I did a great job at my last club, so I decided to take the challenge and move on because every player?s ambition is to play in one of the biggest clubs around the world,? Afful said. ?I think I?ve given everything to my former club, so I had to move on and take the next challenge. I didn?t know (Berhalter), but the way we spoke on the phone, I just liked him, so I decided to take this challenge.?
This is not the Crew?s first effort at signing a right back during the summer transfer period. The Crew had a deal in place with Portuguese defender Zeca, only to have his Greek team change course and opt to keep him after undergoing a coaching change.
Afful will challenge Hector Jimenez and Chad Barson at the spot once held by Hernan Grana, the native of Argentina who started seven of the first nine games this season before leaving the club because of homesickness.
?(Afful) is starting for the Ghanian national team, so we expect him to come in and compete for minutes,? Berhalter said. ?It?s a good opportunity for Harrison, and it?s a good opportunity for the club. He?s a high-profile player. We expect him to be able to make an impact in MLS.?
Thursday marked Afful?s first day of practice with the Crew, though he was only partially active. Berhalter said it has been a month since Afful kicked a ball, and the newcomer admitted to feeling dizzy while working out after having so much time off.
Afful will be added to the roster upon receipt of his transfer certificate and visa, putting the Crew at the maximum of 28 players under contract. He will not travel for a game on Saturday at Orlando City.