Is it in the genes for Levi?

The latest Josh Gowling project arrived on the eve of our first FA Cup match of the season. Levi Leslie Andoh is six foot three, 21 and is on loan from Ipswich Town. Levi is multicultural, always seems to impress his coaches, but has not yet built up a statistical profile.  

He is with Hereford FC for a month initially with a deal which can be extended up until January. Certainly he’ll be given opportunities at Edgar Street, and judging by his two opening games for the Bulls against Lymington he looks to be a good acquisition. An FA Cup or FA Trophy run would ensure there are additional midweek games to factor in too.

Like several of the Edgar Street squad, Ansoh moved to this country at an early age. Mind you, as he told the East Anglian Times, even now “I would describe myself as Dutch, still speak the language and go back there a lot.” His parents are from Ghana, and their son was born in Amsterdam. Initially the family settled in Leicester, but may have moved to the Birmingham area later.

Young Levi was part of the Aston Villa academy for many years. He started at the age of 6, and may have spent up to a decade there with subsequent trials for at least 3 professional clubs.

The Ormiston North-East Wolverhampton football academy came to the rescue.  Its primarily run by George Forsyth’s dad Richard with the assistance of his son Fozzy as a coach. Here Levi could train full time and study for a BTEC Diplomacy in Sport. There was possibly some football experience with Wolverhampton Casuals, Sporting Khalsa and Cradley Town. Ormiston cite Levi as a major success story. As Levi says. “I will always be grateful to Richard and George for always believing in me and helping me make my way in the game.”

The lure of a scholarship tempted Levi and so he was off to Kamloops in British Columbia to join the Thompson River University football team while studying business, economics, and psychology. For whatever reason his stay across the pond was very short, just like his team-mate Robert Pinches. Ansoh played only 11 times between September and November 2018.Was it a culture shock, or was he deterred by the November snowfall in BA! We’ll probably never know.

His next football destination was Worcester City, for whom John ‘snapper’ Snape was effusive about the defender’s potential. “Built like a house” exclaimed “our John” to the local press. At that time, the new arrival could play anywhere in defence or midfield, but good old international clearance got in the way, delaying any participation for 3 weeks. He was not cleared until March and only made 6 appearances during the rest of the season. Although Levi scored for City in August 2018 (set up by one Demetri Brown), the move wasn’t working out.

Levi was approached by Solihull United (not Moors. United are in Midland League Division Two) who ran an U23 Academy under Head Coach Sam Manoochehri . Sam also worked for Villa and so possibly remembered Levi. During an interview with the Solihull Observer, Sam was full of praise for his new recruit; “Levi is an unbelievable athlete, has pace, power, agility, there is no doubting he has been blessed with physical attributes. You can see he wants to be a footballer; he came and invested his time and effort. Levi came over an hour every day to training, he’s had to make a lot of sacrifices.”

The player joined the love in. I’d been rejected by a number of clubs, including Aston Villa and I thought my career was over. I never thought I would get back playing. But Solihull gave me a lot of confidence, I finally felt comfortable playing, there was no pressure, everyone was so supportive there, the players and the coaching staff.

“Sam gave me a freedom to play my game, he allowed me to relax, and I didn’t feel hurried on the ball. I could show composure and became more in tune with my game.  When you’re playing against men, you must focus on more than just the technical side of the game as is the case in academies.”

Somehow, presumably through a contact of Sam’s, Ipswich Town became aware of the Dutchman’s talent in Step 7. Following a trial, Levi was offered an 18 month contract.  It was an extraordinary turn of fortune.

Accommodation was easy. He was offered digs by one of Town’s senior player Luke Chambo Chambers in his house. Levi was grateful. “Luke has been amazing; he has really helped me, and he is such a good role model for me to look up to.”

“Chambo” must clearly have a very big house – Levi is just one of 4 young players staying there.

Predictably the local East Anglian Times wanted words. Levi shared his thoughts. “I need to secure one position, 100 per cent. The one I feel most confident in is centre-back and that’s the one I would like to secure. I have good pace, composure on the ball and a good understanding of the game as a centre back. I love defending, keeping clean sheets and one-on-ones. My main attributes are pace, power and jumping to win headers as well.”

All very well but like all young players, Levi needed men’s football. Before the Leagues shut down, he managed 4 games with Lowestoft Town in Step 3.

Much was made of Ansoh’s first team debut the following month, but in truth this was an EFL Trophy game in which Ipswich were probably happy to lose and thus fielded a team of rookies.

But time has passed. Levi is already 21 with no further games to his credit, so time is against him. Ipswich continue to expensively labour in the third tier and such inexperienced players are easily tossed aside. A loan move to Dartford apparently fell through, and somehow Hereford FC was next. How this link was established is unclear.

I’d like to imagine the Ipswich Town chairman, who used to be a Len Weston Stand season ticket holder, had “words in ears” but it’s unlikely. Or the Ipswich CEO being a former young Albion goalkeeper may be known to our Gaffer.

Most likely is contact from Levi’s agent Arfan Rehman who seems very well connected, and put together a highlights video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLbeJkrzoO4

We wish you well Levi. You need to be getting noticed very soon.

By Simon Wright                                                                                                           Image: Andy Walkden/HFC

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