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Crew SC hopes Ghana international Afful is the answer at right back

Columbus announced Thursday that it had acquired the Ghanaian defender. Is he the answer to the club's questions at right back? We take a closer look at the player's background.

Ghanaian international Harrison Afful was announced as a member of Columbus Crew SC on Thursday.
Ghanaian international Harrison Afful was announced as a member of Columbus Crew SC on Thursday.
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning, Columbus Crew SC announced the signing of Ghanaian international defender Harrisson Afful (supposedly pronounced AH-full, according to the club's press let the pun party begin!).

Afful is a 29-year-old right back, so, presumably, the club believes he could be the answer to a revolving door at that position, not just this season but also in the last couple of years. He was picked up via Discovery Signing, which, if you haven't been paying attention in MLS Signing Mechanisms 101, simply means Crew SC identified him as someone they would like to pursue and put his name on a list, thereby positioning themselves as the only team in MLS who could bring in Afful without some sort of compensation coming to Columbus in return.

He should provide more of an attacking presence than Chad Barson, be a better defender than Hector Jimenez and potentially make a bigger impact than Chris Klute has been able to.

Via the team's press release, head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter talked about the new pickup.

"Harrison is an experienced, versatile defender whose playing style will fit well into our system," said Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. "He has established himself in the highly competitive Ghanaian National Team and has participated in both the Africa Cup of Nations and in the World Cup. After an extensive search, we're happy to welcome Harrison to Columbus and we feel that he is going to be a great addition to our defensive corps."

Afful has spent the last six years with Tunisian club Esperance, where he made 173 appearances and was a regular starter, scoring 16 goals and 25 assists across all competitions. He was credited with two league goals this past season.

Prior to that, he spent two seasons on loan with Ghanaian club Asante Kotoko.

It seems, though, that after six years in Tunisia, the right back was ready for a new challenge, according to a story at (The story incorrectly identifies him as 26 years old. All other sources say he is 29)

The move ends a cloud of rumors and anticipation that have been hovering over the player and his club since the winter transfer window, when he reportedly nearly sealed a move to United Arab Emirates side Al Wahda.

It was also rumored that Portuguese sides Vitoria Guimaraes, Sporting Braga and Sporting CP were all looking to secure the player.

Early in his career, Afful tried to catch on with Scandinavian sides, including Norwegian club Staebek, where Bob Bradley currently coaches. He reportedly appeared in friendlies with Swedish club Helsinborg but was unable to come to terms on a contract.

While with Esperance he helped the club to four Ligue 1 titles, a league runner-up finish and a league cup trophy. The team also captured the CAF Champions League in 2011, finishing as runners up in 2010 and 2012.

On the international stage, Afful has 53 caps for the Black Stars, making his debut for his country in 2008. He was a part of the team for the 2014 World Cup, starting against both Germany and Portugal. He did not play against the United States.

Here is his initial interview posted to Columbus' website upon the announcement of his signing, where we learn he calls himself "The King," is a big Phillip Lahm fan and seems to speak English pretty well. That bodes well for settling into the country and culture, which Hernan Grana obviously failed to do.

Now, for your viewing pleasure....

Here is a video of a goal he scored against Hearts of Oak in May during the CAF Confederations Cup.

Here is Afful against Germany in the World Cup last summer.

For those of you fluent in Ghanaian, here's an interview he did with Delay. (Even if you don't understand what they're saying, at least skip to a point where you can witness Afful's shirt, which some might say is....afful)

And, finally, a montage. Because I love me some Kesha.