Two years ago, college soccer fans were only starting to get a glimpse of Virginia Tech's Patrick Nyarko
The Ghanaian freshman terrorized
opponents but few outside the ACC heard of him.
"He's the reason we're in every game," said Hokie coach Oliver Weiss
after a 2-1 Tech win at
Virginia in which Nyarko scored both goals. "He's a special kid and a special player."
Last year, Nyarko doubled his output from eight to 16 goals, but still remained a secret.
This year, with an influx of experienced players from England and Germany, Nyarko hasn't had to carry the Hokies, but his influence has grown.
Nyarko's winning goal against Old
Dominion last weekend was only his sixth of the season but it moved the Hokies into the quarterfinals for the first time.
Finally, everyone is learning what Hokie fans have known for three
seasons. Nyarko just might be the most talented player in college soccer.
But he ended up at Virginia Tech by accident.
Nyarko grew up speaking Twi in Kumasi, the capital of the
Ashanti region, and learned English by watching ESPN and CNN on television.
Weiss had some soccer contacts in Ghana, and he stumbled upon Nyarko, whose father wanted him to concentrate
on his studies and refused to let him play soccer in school.
Soccer and education were a hard sell when Weiss came calling, but Nyarko's father, a banker, relented after hearing of Tech's
"If education wasn't involved, that conversation would have lasted maybe a minute," Patrick Nyarko told
the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "My father would just say 'No.'"
Nyarko, a psychology
major, and Joshua Boateng, another Ghanaian who has since transferred to Liberty, marveled at the academic facilities available to students when they arrived in Blacksburg in 2005.
Nyarko's father was put at ease. NYARKO STATS Year GP-GS G-A-P
2006 20-17 16-8-40
2007 20-17 6-10-22