Former Ghana international Bernard Dong-Bortey has revealed he holds regrets about his failure to realise his full potential.
Once Ghana’s brightest young talent, the attacker first rose to prominence at the 1999 Fifa U17 World Cup, where he netted three times to finish the tournament as the joint-third top scorer.
He went on to win four Ghana Premier League titles, the 2002 league goal-king award and the Caf Confederation Cup, all early in his career but judging by his precocious talent, he is considered a big disappointment, an assertion he agrees with.
“I’m always in pain about my career because when I was in my prime, my target was the African or world best player award,” Bortey told Goal.
“If [George] Oppong Weah can be world best, Don Bortey can be world best. Maybe my kids will reach that stage I was not able to reach.
“Only Abedi Pele [Ayew] has been Caf African best player in Ghana. I’ve been worried about why Asamoah [Gyan], Kwadwo Asamoah, [Andre] Dede Ayew, [Christian] Atsu, as skillful as they are, have not been able to win it.
“The likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were determined to reach high. They have set a stage they want to reach.”
Bortey did well to establish himself as a star on the local scene but struggled in his bid to forge a decent career abroad on multiple attempts.
The now 37-year-old played for Al Wasl FC of the United Arab Emirates, Bnei Sakhnin of Israel, Vietnamese side CLB Song Lam and The Panthers of Equatorial Guinea in a series of brief, unsuccessful stints.
“I’m not God. Maybe where I reached was the stage God wanted me to finish it for someone to come and continue. I have pain in me but it’s past,” the former winger added.
“I have to put it behind me because I have three kids who are all playing football, so I have to focus on pushing them. I could not do it but maybe they can do it for me.
“I want to be a coach now. I’ve retired. I was not 100 per cent sure but I have done it.
“I’m still playing football but not competitively. I don’t want to play any more competitive leagues like the Ghana Premier League because I have made the name already.
“Everybody knows my name in Ghana football. So I have to leave for the young ones to take over. Now, I’m a coach. I’m not a footballer anymore. I’ve retired.”
Bortey made over 20 appearances for Ghana’s senior national team.