The Driving Force of Ali Fuseini
The marauding Ghanaian footballer and entrepreneur has plenty going for him both on and off the pitch by AtTheMatch
The screensaver on his iPhone illustrates the change in direction Ali Fuseini’s life has taken as of recent. “She’s the most important thing to me right now,” The midfielder proclaims proudly as he points to a picture of his newly-born first daughter. “After she came, everything changed for me, life took on a new perspective. I was more focused than before but now I am more focused than ever in terms of my life ambitions, in football and business. Of course, I have to give thanks and praise to the missus, who carried my daughter for nine months and is a rock for me. They are both so important to me, and both will me on to succeed.”
The will is strong for Accra-born Fuseini, and goes a long way to explaining how he has navigated a series of hurdles both professionally and over the course of his life in order to succeed on a number of levels. Fuseini has never been one to blend quietly in the background, and so this proved when the boy who arrived to Catford as a wide-eyed 11 year old took it upon himself to grow amongst the ranks and eventually establish his place in a fiercely competitive Millwall side of the mid-2000s. “There were a lot of big characters at the club when I was starting there – people like Dennis Wise, Tim Cahill, and Ray Wilkins. There was a lot of excitement around the club and they were achieving big things like reaching the FA Cup Final and challenging for promotion to the Premier League. The competition for places was intense, yes, but it was a good place to grow up and learn your football. Richard Shaw was one of the players who looked after me there. I spent many years at Millwall, had a lot of good times, but ultimately things came to an end and I had to seek opportunities elsewhere”.
After departing the Lions off the back of the South London club’s promotion back to the second tier in 2010, Fuseini became a well-travelled footballer, taking in stints at Lewes and Lincoln City followed by spells at Eastleigh and Bromley. Having left Bromley in 2013, Fuseini is back via a year at Sutton United at a club he professes is close to his heart and one where he feels he can call home. “I enjoyed the challenges and experiences that come from representing a number of clubs, all over the country,” enthuses Fuseini. “I feel like I am playing some great football at the moment at Bromley, I am working hard, training hard, and the rewards will come from that. Hopefully that can transfer to my business too.”
Ali Fuseini, footballer and Ali Fuseini, businessman are two separate beasts but both with an inimitable tenacity. His car rental business Go the Extra Mile (GTEM) Rentals was launched two years ago in partnership with his younger brother Issac and the company has achieved fledgling success in what can be a difficult market to corner. Whilst it is not unheard of for professional or semi-pro footballers to run or be part of side projects unrelated to their playing careers, at 27 years old Ali – ably assisted by Issac – has shown maturity belying his still relatively young years by managing to juggle a fast and frenetic company along with maintaining a high standard on the field. Still, though, the hunger is there for more. “GTEM was something I always had a mind to do, from when I was quite young. I am a businessman at heart, and I love cars – what young man doesn’t! Combining those two passions was something natural for me. We are in the early stages yet with GTEM and we would like increased revenue especially with regards to commercial customers but I am sure that will improve as time goes on. Issac works very hard on the business, he is very honest with me, my biggest fan and harshest critic just like in my football! GTEM will prosper, as I am sure will my football career”.
Having made over 250 senior career appearances prior to his 27th birthday, Fuseini carries a wealth of experience on the shoulders of a player who theoretically still has the best days of his playing career in front him. “I still feel young, very fit and ready to fight. I love to play box to box, just like my heroes Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari. I am eager to play league football again and I have no doubt that I will.”
There is no doubt that Ali Fuseini has the drive to take him all the way to the top, in both the football field and the field of business.Click here to stay up to date with AtTheMatch