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Don Bortey: Was Former Black Stars Winger Falsely Accused of Theft?

A tale of Don Bortey’s woes resulting from the accusations of theft levelled against him.

He had been tipped as the next big thing in Ghanaian football- that was in the early to mid-2000s.

Armed with a cracking pace and eye for goal, he was indeed a midfielder full of prospect.

Bernard Don Bortey was a household name at Hearts of Oak- and the fans, the famous Phobia army, had a soft spot for him. They loved him. They adored him. Then Oaks’ coach, Kosta Ppaic knew just how to get the best out of the diminutive player.

It was not long before his name became a fixture in the national team Black Stars. Bortey went on and attracted international scouts, something that led to an invitation to attend trials with Israeli giants Maccabi Tel Aviv.

There was no doubt that his career was headed for the skies.

Then tragedy struck in May 2004, a few days after joining the side. The trial was abruptly ended and the player sent back to Ghana in disgrace.

The club administration accused Bortey of stealing a watch and an unspecified amount of money from a teammates’ locker.

According to an Israeli publication, the “master thief” got into the locker room and moved the stuff to John Painstil’s (former Black Stars player) car. On the player’s return, someone who saw him said he was in and out of Painstil’s car and a small search was done in the car where all the stolen items were found.

Bortey initially refused to confess to the crime but was tricked into admitting. He only confessed after Paintsil lied to him that he was recorded on the locker room’s security camera.

Bortey could have been handed over to the police, but Painstil got involved and pleaded on his behalf. He was sent to “Ogyakrom” on the next available flight.

His failed trial and theft accusation seemed to hurt his career progression as he not only lost form but also a spot on the national football team, Black Stars.

Tired of it all, Bortey now feels that center can no longer hold and has launched a scathing attack on John Pantsil for falsely accusing him of theft which, he argues, stagnated his career.

In an emotional interview with Joy FM on Wednesday, he said; “I didn’t steal any watch in Israel; John Paintsil lied.”

“That boy is my friend but I don’t want to talk about him (Painstil). He is one of the reasons my career went this way,” he added.

“Let’s forget about him.”

“It wasn’t John Painstil who got me to Israel for the trial but it was so good to join your compatriot at the same club. We were there one day and he just accused me of stealing a watch. It was just sad but let’s forget about it,” he concluded.

The fact that things are going tough for Bortey is not in doubt. In fact, an interview video circulating online shows the former star face coated with bitterness, which clearly tells that he had joined football to register growth and attain economic freedom.

Everyone in Accra still recalls that Bortey was one of the most exciting players to watch in the domestic league and helped Accra Hearts of Oak to the league and continental glories.

But he could not make the mark any time he moved to Europe and was involved in several controversies that marred his career.

Late last year, Bortey joined Accra Great Olympics on a two year deal having been a free agent since parting ways with second-tier side Samartex three seasons ago.

With a nosedive in performance, it remains to be seen if Bortey will reinvent himself in the upcoming Normalisation Committee’s organised Special Competition.

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