Born in Accra, Ghana, Bernard Tekpetey began his footballing journey playing in the streets with his friends and working his way up the ranks at the Ghanaian second-tier side Unistar Soccer Academy, before leaving his homeland at 18 years old and joining Schalke. He made his debut on November 24, 2016, winning a penalty that resulted in Dennis Aogo doubling their lead, before being sent off for two bookable offenses in a 2-0 win against Nice.
Two months later, Tekpetey made his Ghana debut in a 1-0 loss to Egypt in the final AFCON group stage match, making his second and final (to this date) appearance and playing 70 minutes in the third-place match against Burkina Faso, but he was unable to consolidate a first-team spot at Schalke and would go out on loans to Austrian side Altach as well as the German second division with Paderborn and Fortuna Dusseldorf, before joining Ludogorets Razgrad on loan in the summer of 2020.
“Everything I’ve heard about Ludogorets so far made me choose this club,” Tekpetey said at his unveiling. “They play good football and they are always part of the Champions League and Europa League too. This is important for every player who wants to develop his career. It [Bulgarian league] is different compared to the Bundesliga but my first impression is that training is on a high level here.
The coach wants us to create more attacks. I was happy to see the players so motivated to play for the win. I am also glad to be part of a club with such ambition. I need to work hard and that is the most important thing. This way, I will reach my goals,” he added.
The spindly youngster impressed in Bulgaria with 4 goals and 9 assists across 36 appearances, convincing the club to make the deal permanent. He would enjoy a stellar 2021/22 campaign with 10 goals and 12 assists in 38 appearances and make a name for himself with his spatial awareness, constantly able to spot where to run, where a move was developing and what to do next. He is a quick, mobile player who can play across the frontline and who boasts an unmatched work ethic on the pitch, the definition of a team player.
Whether playing on the wing or in a central role, Tekpetey has stood out thanks to his ability to score and create goal-scoring opportunities, boasting supreme vision, playmaking ability and pinpoint passing, capable of beating the goalkeeper with his deadly right foot and lethal finishing. He would follow that up with 10 goals and 9 assists in 50 appearances in 2022/23, playing in all three of the UEFA club competitions, continuing to amass more silverware.
Ludogorets have won the league title every single year since their introduction into Bulgaria’s top-flight in 2011/12, and Tekpetey’s versatility has been a key asset in their dominance continuing, able to do a job in midfield or even left back, where he played the full 90 minutes as Ludogorets beat CSKA 1948 Sofia 3-1 in the 2023 Bulgarian Cup Final and secured their third cup and their first in nine years.
Tekpetey has begun the season with two goals in three Champions League qualifiers, with Ludogorets losing to NK Olimpija Ljubljana before falling to FC Astana in Europa League qualifying. He would score a brace in his league season debut before coming off the bench in their 5-0 win against Botev Vratsa and starting in their 3-0 win against CSKA-Sofia, before getting the start again in their match against Astana.
Having lost 2-1 in Kazakhstan, Ludogorets took the lead within 25 minutes via Tekpetey only for Dembo Darboe to equalize shortly after, but Piotrowski would add another for the Bulgarian side after the break whilst Tekpetey gave them the lead on aggregate in the 50th minute. Piotrowski and Kiril Despodov added to the scoring for Ludogorets, whilst things went from bad to worse for Astana who were reduced to 10 men in the 77th minute.
Ludogorets will take on Ajax in the following round and they will be looking to book their ticket to the Europa League group stage for a seventh straight year. It remains to be seen if Tekpetey will be part of the squad for their match-up against the Dutch giants — with a contract until 2024, he could be set for a big move sooner rather than later as he looks to return to the Black Stars squad after six years.
On the pitch, he has led Ludogorets Razgard to glory. Off it, he’s been busy establishing a lasting legacy, passing on his wealth to help his community. He has a foundation called Bernard Tekpetey Foundation, and he has donated examination items including mathematical sets to help current final-year students in their exams. The donations were done for four schools in the Gomoa West District, namely Oguaa Basic School in Gomoa Odina, Achiase Basic School in Gomoa Dunkwa, Akropong D/A Basic School in Gomoa Akropong, and Olefreku D/A Basic School in Gomoa Olefreku.
By: Gidoen Amoah / @Laka993
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto