From Odumase Krobo To Atlético Madrid: The Struggles of Thomas Teye Partey

For those of you who are too quick to conclude on others, think twice. Even the destitute you avoid today could be your breadwinner tomorrow. Life is full of surprises; God’s timing is always different for people.
The life of Ghana and Atletico Madrid midfielder, Thomas Teye Partey corroborates the above statement.
Partey is arguably his nation’s best player at present and one of the continent’s best performing players.
Any time the 25-year-old reminisces about how far his career as a footballer has come, he is filled with gratitude, one he expresses with profound reflection through his Christian faith.
Thomas Partey
Thomas Partey
It may still seem surreal for him but the hard core reality is, Partey is plying his trade in Spain.
Like any young footballer, he had always dreamt of playing in Europe. But how soon this would happen was the question he kept asking himself any time the thought of it, the thought of etching his name in football folklore, popped up.
“My career as a professional footballer is one that surprises me whenever I cast my mind back,” he told
“God has done it for me. I’m glad I never lost faith. I’m very happy how far I’ve come, where I am now.”
Partey was born in Odumase Krobo in the Eastern region of Ghana, a town famously noted for its glass beads industry, the host of the first International Beads Festival in August 2009. It is, thus, unsurprising that his mother was a glass beadmaker. His father though, was an amateur footballer.
Odumase Krobo has seen many professional footballers born and raised there over the last few decades – but only a few have managed to make the national impact that Partey has. Two of them readily come to mind, Francis Narh and Jacob Laweh.
Partey has seven other siblings. His beginnings were modest – he was raised within a family that at a point could barely make ends meet. Little Partey and his other siblings had to engage in menial jobs to support their parents financially
He would always assure his parents of turning the fortunes of the family around because he had the conviction he would ride on his footballing talent to attain greatness in the future. How right he was?
His talent has never been in doubt. The quickness of mind, nimbleness of foot and the perfect balance which characterises his play now shone in his early years.
The 25-year-old started his career with Krobo Youth FC, a colts club in his native town before joining Revelation FC at Ashaiman, where his consistent displays caught the eagle eyes of Winfred Osei Palmer, owner and bankroller of popular habour city-based side Tema Youth.
Then playing in Ghana’s second tier, Partey proved integral in Tema Youth’s promotion to the Ghanaian top-flight in 2010.
The unassuming midfielder’s rise to stardom is a classic rags-to-riches story. In 2011, he was scouted by a Spanish agent while playing in a local tournament. Luck had smiled on him, but as to whether he was prepared enough to meet that opportunity was another thing altogether.
How was he going to make that trip to Spain? Eventually, someone toiled and found money for him not to miss his train of destiny. Partey would later find out from his agent that his father had sold some personal property to realize his son’s aspirations.
Thomas Partey
“My father never wanted to say anything because he knew that I would not accept it,” Partey said.
“He was well on his way, set on the path of impact.
“I got into a car, they took me to the capital, they gave me my passport and said today you travel,” Partey recalled of that pivotal time in his career.
“My dad wasn’t at home. Nobody from my family knew anything; they didn’t know I was going that day because if they’d been told it would have caused problems.
“I travelled to Spain and it was six or seven months before anyone realised that I wasn’t in Ghana.”
What followed was a fairytale for the boy from Odumase Krobo. He secured a contract with Atletico Madrid, a club he would admit he experienced love at first sight with.
“When I first arrived here I didn’t know anyone and adaptation was very difficult,” he told the Independent.
“But the technical team and the coach from the first day were very supportive.”
In order to break into the team, he had to go out. He was sent on loan moves to Mallorca and Almeria that were strategically picked out to aid his development.
He learned hard and waited patiently, and so when a first-team debut came in 2015, it had a sense of deservedness. The next season he would shine as Atleti launched a dual assault on the La Liga and the Champions League.
He never looked back from what he described as his “breakthrough” season. The 2017/18 campaign was arguably Partey’s best season at the Madrid-based club.
He clocked an impressive 50 games (40 starts) for Diego Simeone’s side – more than he’d managed in this two previous seasons combined (47) – reaching many other personal bests in terms of goals, assists and other vital statistics.
He also improved his attacking game, scoring five goals from midfield, including another five for the Black Stars of Ghana in 2017.
Now regarded as one of the most influential players for the Black Stars – he captained the team in their last two friendlies, scoring in both – Partey is at the height of his powers.
This is unlike in five years ago, when he missed out on the Ghana’s U-20 team that played in the 2013 World Cup in Turkey.
He sighs anytime he remembers that episode, the harrowing drain of rejection after travelling from Spain to train with the team. The sigh is engrossing, embodying a sort of palpable disappointment.
But he marched, and the results of that persistence and strength of character is there for all to see.
Partey, who won the Europa League last season, may well be Africa’s top performing midfielder in Europe, but does he have what it takes to take it up a notch higher? To scrape the sky?
It remains to be seen. But what has been seen thus far is his talent – unmistakable and elegant – and that sort of talent does take people places.
The best is yet to come.