Returning Hertha Berlin midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has been here, there and everyway in the game of football - and life. - © DFL
Returning Hertha Berlin midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has been here, there and everyway in the game of football - and life. - © DFL
bundesliga

Kevin-Prince Boateng: 10 things on the returning Hertha Berlin midfielder, human rights activist and rapper

Kevin-Prince Boateng has gone back to where it all began with his return to Hertha Berlin. bundesliga.com presents 10 things on the roving veteran midfielder still fighting fires on and off the pitch...

1) Journeyman's journeyman

Including Hertha, where he started and has intimated he will finish his playing career, Boateng has represented 14 different clubs professionally.

The now 34-year-old with a somewhat nomadic reputation made his debut for Hertha on 15 August 2005 against future employers Eintracht Frankfurt, where he spent the 2017/18 season following stints at Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund, Portsmouth, Genoa, AC Milan, Schalke and Las Palmas.

In the three years up to his summer 2021 reunion with Hertha, the Berlin native also turned out for Sassuolo, Barcelona, Fiorentina, Besiktas and Monza.

2) Wanted by Klopp

Had Jürgen Klopp had his way, the career of the 2006 Best U19 player in Germany might have panned out quite differently.

"I had all the money, buy didn't treat football as a job," Boateng once said of his heady first spell abroad with London club Spurs.

"I lived like a king. I’d never been to the gym. That changes your later career. I bought three cars in one day when I was at Tottenham: a Lamborghini, a Hummer and a Cadillac."

At Dortmund, it was different.

Boateng made 10 Bundesliga appearances for BVB during the second half of 2008/09, but missed the final four matches of the campaign through suspension.

The Black-Yellows fell two points short of European qualification, leaving a hole in the budget that otherwise might have been used to turn the Germany youth international's loan deal into a permanent one.

A young Boateng (l.) won over Jürgen Klopp (r.) at Borussia Dortmund in no time at all. - imago

"Had Dortmund qualified for Europe at the time, they would have bought me," Boateng told Goal.

“Klopp called me personally and told me that they couldn't resolve the situation. I was very sad about that and the normally tough Prince cried.

“At the time, I guessed that something big could happen in Dortmund, so I wanted to stay. But it wasn't meant to happen. For Klopp, I would even have gone to China!"

3) 'Cause he danced, on the floor, in Milan

Instead, Boateng returned to England before winning Serie A, via a spell at Genoa, with AC Milan.

Despite contributing three goals and two assists across 29 league games for a team including the likes of Gennaro Gattuso, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Boateng is best remembered in the Italian capital for his 2010/11 title celebrations.

Towards the end of the season, he had told Gazzetta dello Sport: 'If we are to win the Scudetto, I will dance the moonwalk dressed as Michael Jackson, hopefully on the pitch. I have never won anything important in my career. The Scudetto would be a great achievement."

Boateng stayed true to his word. After AC beat Cagliari to end a seven-year wait for domestic glory, Boateng grooved onto a pop-up stage at the San Siro to deliver a step-perfect rendition of Michael Jackson's acclaimed Billie Jean dance routine, complete with sequin jacket and fedora hat.

Fans would have been forgiven for thinking the club had signed a tribute act, but in a pulsating climax, Boateng revealed his true identity to spark wild scenes among his teammates.

4) DFB Cup winner

Boateng also won the Italian Supercoppa during his first stint at Milan, adding to his English League Cup (Spurs) and U17 and U19 Bundesliga (Hertha) winner's medals.

Although he only played a bit-part role in Barcelona's 2018/19 La Liga success, the Ghanaian was integral to Frankfurt's triumphant DFB Cup campaign 12 months earlier. It remains a career highlight to this day.

"I'm still grateful for my time at Frankfurt," Boateng explained of a one-season stay that yielded six goals and two assists in 36 competitive appearances.

"I'm glad that Niko Kovac supported me. Niko initially took me aside and explained to me how to behave in the professional business. He used to bring me back to earth when I felt like the coolest because I'm a professional footballer, and he let me play with freedom.

"He just told me to take care of the team. I'm happy to have played my part."

Boateng capped his stint at Eintracht Frankfurt with a 3-1 win over Bayern Munich in the DFB Cup final. - Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

5) He could have played for Real Madrid

Boateng - who, by his own admission, used to paint the town red at least six nights a week  - probably wishes he met Kovac earlier.

"Mentality is crucial in football. I started too late to really think about [my career]. Of course, I regret that," he told Goal in 2019.

"As an 18-year-old, I would have needed an agent or a family to push me in the right direction. I would have liked that. But I had to fix everything myself.

"I know very well that I have also failed with my motivation, which has not always been 100 per cent there.

"If I would have had the absolute will, I would have been a starting XI player at Barcelona or would have played 10 years for Real Madrid or Manchester United."

Watch: A Kevin-Prince Boateng highlight reel

6) UN ambassador

To his credit, Boateng has "done a lot of growing up" since his international playboy years - but it wasn't until January 2013 that the world began to see the much-maligned Berliner in a different light.

Subjected to a torrent of racist abuse during a mid-season friendly between then employers AC Milan and lower-league Pro Patria, the son of a Ghanaian father and German mother took a ground-breaking stance: he walked off the pitch, and the match was abandoned.

A few months later, Boateng spoke at the UN about his exemplary actions, before being named FIFA's first global anti-discrimination ambassador.

"Football stadiums, like other places, are full of young people," said the UN's anti-racism ambassador. "If we don't fight the stagnation, many of those who are healthy today, could become infected with one of the most dangerous diseases of our time. Racism is real, it exists here and now."

Boateng continues to lead the fight against racism in football and the racist minority to this very day.

"I want to do my part. I'm gonna start with Berlin, and then I’ll take Germany, Europe, the U.S., and hopefully the world. I’m not scared. If my sponsors or my club kick me out tomorrow because of something I said in defence of equal rights, I truly don't care," he wrote in The Players' Tribune in 2020.

"If I have to spend my own money, I will. I won't give up, that's for sure. But I need your help and support; I'm a footballer with ideas, raising his voice for a good cause."

Watch: From moonwalking in Milan to working for the UN, Kevin-Prince Boateng had lots to share with Patrick Owomoyela

7) Moral compass

A true advocate for social justice, Boateng was filmed handing out food to two homeless people in Cologne, where he spent part of the 2021 summer break working as a UEFA Euro 2020 pundit for German broadcaster, Sportschau. The Hertha midfielder presented the pair with two doner kebabs, a water and a Coca-Cola.

He also donated 16,000 Ghanaian Cedis (€2,300) to families of the eight African Vision Academy youth players, who died in a road accident in September 2020.

A year earlier, Boateng reimbursed a fan the money he spent to sign him for his Serie A fantasy football team, shortly before he joined Barcelona on loan from Sassuolo.

Via Instagram, 'GodSaveTheKingBorn' messaged Boateng to ask for a refund.

"You should reimburse me, what will I do now? Will I send you my account number?" he wrote. Boateng's reply was immediate.

"Hi Renato, I've already paid you back," he replied.

"I'd like to do two things, thank you in person or give this money to charitable causes and the ticket [to Barcelona] will be paid for by me."

8) PRIN$$

Boateng's talk of cents, dimes and dollars extends to his side job as a rapper.

In August 2018, he released a song under the alias PRIN$$ Boateng, entitled King. He unveiled his follow-up single, Bella Vita, in July 2019. The accompanying music videos for the tracks have been watched by millions of YouTube users worldwide.

9) A Boateng family tree

Football, dancing, rapping, you name it: performing is in the Boateng family DNA.

Kevin's father is "a talented dancer"; his half-sister "a great singer and dancer"; his eldest brother George "raps"; and then there's Jerome.

A FIFA 2014 World Cup winner with Germany and nine-time Bundesliga champion with Bayern Munich, Prince's half-brother boasts a footballing CV most can only dream of - but can he moonwalk?

"No," says Kevin with schoolboy repartee. "Jerome plays football, but I can do everything."

Jerome Boateng and half-brother Kevin-Prince (l-r.) have faced off for club and country. - 2013 Getty Images

10) German-Ghanaian

If you're wondering why Jerome played for Germany and Kevin-Prince for Ghana, the answer is pretty simple. JB opted for his his mother's country of birth; K-P declared for his father's native land - after a fashion.

Having won youth caps with Germany's U18s, 19s, 20s and 21s, the Hertha midfielder made his senior international debut for the Black Stars, upon receipt of a Ghanaian passport in 2010.

The Ghanaian Football Association had hoped to tie down their man four years earlier, but FIFA eligibility rules at the time stipulated he was past the age where old youth internationals could switch allegiance.

Kevin-Prince - who has over 30 tattoos, including an homage to his African roots - retired from international football on 15 caps, having lined up against Jerome and Germany at the 2014 and 2010 World Cup finals.