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Ludogorets: Bernard Tekpetey's Bulgarian renaissance

Bernard Tekpetey Ludogorets
Ludogorets: Bernard Tekpetey's Bulgarian renaissance

Ludogorets host Nordsjaelland in their 2nd Europa League Conference group stage match. The Bulgarian side will once again be able to count on their Ghanaian, Bernard Tekpetey, to make the difference. At the age of 26, the twirling winger has finally gained in consistency and is putting in a string of top-class performances, after several up-and-down seasons.

Bernard Tekpetey is finally blossoming in the Bulgarian league.

Don't ask him if he's left- or right-handed - he'd be hard pressed to answer, such is his ease with both feet. And neither opposing defenders nor goalkeepers would disagree. Since the start of the season, Bernard Tekpetey has put in a string of fine performances for Ludogorets. It's in Bulgaria that the 26-year-old Ghanaian seems to have finally found his stride. With 17 games played so far this season, the winger has 8 goals and 4 assists to his name in all competitions, including 2 in the Europa League Conference in the 4-0 victory over Trnava on Matchday 1 of the group phase.

A mixed start at Schalke 04...

A successful performance on the European stage confirms the winger's current good form and, above all, that he is finally making his mark in the Bulgarian league. Revenge for the Ghanaian international, who for a long time wandered from club to club in Germany without making the grade, before packing his bags and leaving Schalke 04. A difficult choice, but for Bernard Tekpetey, it was necessary to cut the cord with the club that spotted him in Ghana when he was a student at UniStar Soccer Academy, and bring him to the Ruhr to complete his training. The start of a European career for the ambidextrous winger? Not exactly.

Despite his intrinsic qualities, his lack of consistency prevented him from realizing his full potential and winning his place. This prompted Schalke to loan him out to the lower echelons. First in Austria at SCR Altach, with a mixed spell marked by his suspension after reacting to racist chants from opposing supporters during a cup match against Union Gurten. The 20-year-old's moody gesture in celebration of a goal earned him a suspension. An experience he will always remember bitterly.Back to Germany, but to Paderborn, where he put in a string of first-rate performances, scoring 11 goals in 36 games. Enough to return to Schalke and claim a place in Huub Stevens' squad? Not really, as the coach leaves the club at the start of the summer 2019 mercato, and his successor, David Wagner, arrives with plans that clearly do not include Bernard Tekpetey.

... to confirmation and titles in Bulgaria

So it was to be another loan spell, this time with Fortuna Düsseldorf. It was a far from conclusive experience for the native of Accra, with just 10 games played. Back at Schalke, still under David Wagner, his chances of playing are slim. A disappointment for the Black Star, who would later confess his regret at not having had the chance to try and make his mark in the Bundesliga. He opted for a change of scenery, joining Ludogorets. On loan for two seasons. And the choice finally paid off for Bernard Tekpetey, who went from strength to strength. He played 36 matches in his first season, winning the Bulgarian league title. He was finally in full bloom, and the public discovered a player who was skilful with both feet, who combined speed and percussion, who knew how to destabilize with his dribbling and who possessed a powerful shot that enabled him to score from outside the penalty area. All these qualities are reminiscent, albeit from a distance, of a certain Ousmane Dembélé.

But that was enough to convince the Bulgarian club to keep him on permanently after his 2nd season on loan, punctuated by another national title. Another reward for Tekpetey, whose determination has finally paid off."If you keep working, if you keep moving forward, you'll get what you want. Concentrate on what's next," he declared after his latest trophy. At the age of 26, the Ghanaian finally seems to have found the ideal framework to gain in consistency and give the full measure of his potential, before perhaps knocking on the door a little higher up and, why not, making a comeback for a place with the Black Stars, with whom he has two caps to his name.

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