David Accam’s footballing journey has reached new corners of the globe after signing for Major League Soccer (MLS) side Chicago Fire in America, but he still remembers where it all started.
The young West African footballer arrived at Hartpury in 2008, and since honing his skills at the college, his career has gone from strength to strength. The Ghanaian will now be hoping to make an instant impression across the pond, having arrived in Chicago via a stint in Sweden and, most recently, Equatorial Guinea, where the forward was a member of Ghana’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) squad.
The 24-year-old made his second international appearance for the Black Stars in the competition, featuring against Senegal in their first group fixture. Accam’s countrymen progressed all the way to the final, succumbing to an agonising penalty shootout defeat against Ivory Coast.
Accam, who made his Ghana debut in November 2014 against Uganda, said: “It’s everybody’s dream to play for their country and to play in the biggest tournament in Africa was amazing. The whole experience for me was massive and hopefully I can use it in future games for my club and country.”
Born in Ghana’s capital of Accra, Accam’s talents were spotted at an early age by the Right to Dream (RtD) Academy, which identifies and develops talented young footballers in West Africa.
Accam was then offered the chance to hone his footballing skills at Hartpury and he arrived in the summer of 2008, alongside fellow RtD graduate Abdul Majeed Waris - Hartpury’s first ever World Cup representative (for Ghana), who is now plying his trade with Turkish Süper Lig outfit Trabzonspor.
During his time at Hartpury, electric attacker Accam was a consistent performer as he helped the college to secure three national championships, as well as obtaining a degree in Sport Performance.
“I had a great time at Hartpury,” he enthused. “It has some of the best facilities in the country and the coaching staff were brilliant throughout my time there. It definitely helped to develop my talents.”
After finishing his degree, Accam took part in a national competition and secured a spot in the prestigious Nike Academy - a squad designed to help each player find a professional club.
In March 2012, Accam’s professional dreams were realised when he signed for then third-tier Swedish side Östersunds FK.
A blistering start saw him become an immediate success and after eight goals in 13 appearances, he was on the move to Sweden’s top division, the Allsvenskan, with Helsingborgs IF paying a record fee for his services.
He then became the first footballer from Hartpury to play in the Champions League, appearing against Celtic in the group stages of the 2012 competition.
Accam spent two years at the club, producing form which saw him called up to the Ghana squad in 2013 and after a red-hot run where he scored 19 goals in just 26 appearances, the goalscorer’s signature was highly coveted by a host of top sides, including several English Premier League sides.
In December 2014, Accam made his high-profile move to the MLS, where he will come up against footballing luminaries like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Brazilian ace Kaká.
He said: “Sweden was an important part of my career as it was my first taste of professional football. I was able to continue to work on my game and build my confidence throughout my time there and it was an amazing experience to play in the best club competition in Europe.
“I had a few offers from various clubs but Chicago showed me a lot of respect and showed that they really wanted me.”
Accam made his debut for Chicago on Sunday (March 22nd), appearing as a half-time substitute as they fell to San Jose Earthquakes 2-1.
“Despite the result, it was great to make my debut for the team and hopefully I can make a positive impact this season,” he added. “I want to help Chicago do well in the league and hopefully we can qualify for the play-offs at the end of the year.”
Accam is hopeful that his form will springboard his international career further, but he is still grateful for the opportunities that have arisen since moving to England almost seven years ago.
“I want to keep developing as a footballer and a person and hopefully I can earn more caps for my country as it is a major honour,” he said.
“At Hartpury, I learned that if you apply yourself to both studying and football and are prepared to work hard, then your dreams can come true.”