Over the past few days, the failed move of Shilla Illiasu to Arsenal has become a trending topic on social media.
The former Black Stars center back revealed that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal wanted to sign him in 2006 after his awe-inspiring performances at the World Cup, but the move stalled in the eleventh hour due to Alhaji Grusah’s “stubbornness”.
Alhaji Grusah in a swift reply has repudiated the claims. According to Alhaji Grusah, he knew nothing about the move. He also went on to ask questions on why he would stop a move that will benefit he himself.
Mahamashaibu.com went to a great length to interview Shilla Illiasu and discover more about the failed move in 2006.
“It all started after our game against Czech Republic in 2006. I was at the hotel with my agent and Alhaji Grusah. My agent lauded me for my performance and told me he has a surprise for me.”
“He picked his phone and then called a number, to my surprise Arsene Wenger was on the line. He told me Arsene Wenger on the day was in the stands, he was impressed with my performance and had already registered his interest in me”
“I was left gobsmacked, the great Arsene Wenger is interested in me?”
“My agent told me not to get carried away by the interest, but i needed to prove myself in the subsequent games”
Shilla Illiasu wasn’t struck by the interest from Arsenal, he continued to perform splendidly, he was solid in Ghana’s 2-1 win against USA. A result that booked Ghana’s place in the knockout round. Ghana was eventually knocked out by then World champions Brazil in the round of 16, Ghana lost 3-0.
“After the tournament, I came back to Ghana and quickly went to Obuasi to play for Kotoko in the Champions league. The interest from Arsenal continued to intensify so I had to leave for London immediately”
Shilla illiasu continued to speak of how things unfolded in London.
“I trained with Arsenal for more than 3 days, I met the likes of Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Thierry Henry etc. They made me feel home. I remember so well that I was wearing the Jersey number 28 during training and i was mostly paired with Kolo Toure in defense.”
“My agent told me that Arsene Wenger was impressed and he wanted to sign me. It was almost a done deal. I was even surprised when the Media men came to my hotel prior to a Black Stars friendly game against Togo in London to congratulate me on joining Arsenal, I was surprised because I didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what they saw on the Arsenal website.”
What looked like a done deal to Shilla started to fall. The once in a time opportunity slipped away from the fingers of Shilla Illiasu.
“Later, the deal started getting complicated because another person had written to Arsenal claiming my ownership, but by then I was on the books of Kotoko.”
”I didn’t know who that was, but i remember my agent kept telling me to talk to Alhaji. I spoke to Kwabena Kesse ‘Kessben’, who was by then the CEO of Kotoko, he told me they were still in talks with Arsenal and assured me my future remained the central focus.”
The interest from Arsenal gradually faded out, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal pulled out of the deal because of the problems.
“The interest from Arsenal faded because of the letter. It was later that i got to find out that Alhaji Grusah was the one who wrote that letter to Arsenal claiming I was his bonafide property. Till date, I am still in shock that he did that, because i knew he was at all cost going to get his percentage should a move happen”.
After the move to Arsenal collapsed, Shilla Iliasu revealed that there was another English club interested in him.
“After the Arsenal move collapsed, my agent informed me that Blackburn Rovers wanted to sign me, by then Mark Hughes was their manager. I went there and trained with the squad, but i couldn’t sign for Blackburn because the transfer window in England was closed.
Shilla Iliasu also revealed that Arsenal at then wanted to pay €500,000 for his services. But he ended up joining for FC Saturn in Russia for €1,000,000.
“Later i was informed of another interest from Russia. The team was really interested in me and they had already prepared their team for Medicals. I had my Medicals in England at Reading, then I signed for Fc Saturn.”
The gifted center back went on to shower approbations on Alhaji Grusah.
“To put the records straight, Alhaji is more or less like a father to. My transformation was all his doing, he took me from Tamale and treated me like his own son, so why would I be lying against him and why would I even open this up after 14 years” he concluded.
Shillah Iliasu’s career was short lived as he was hit with series of career threatening injuries. The former Black Stars center back is now in Tamale enjoying life with his family.