It was in a FA Cup quarterfinal game between the defunct Dawu Youngsters and Accra Hearts of Oak in November 2000 when Sumaila Abdallah wrote his name in the history books of football.
The goalie from the unfashionable local club, Dawu Youngsters in December 2001 lined up with Portuguese Luis Figo, Spaniard Raul Gonzalez and England’s David Beckham.
Sumaila was not competing with them for the 2001 World Player of the Year award. Rather, he was getting an award from football’s world governing body for saving an opponent’s life.
Together with Italian midfielder Paolo di Canio, the former under-17 youth international was named to receive the 2001 FIFA Fair Play Award.
“This award comes as a surprise and I’m proud of it,” Sumaila Abdallah told BBC Sport Online in Accra after winning the award in 2001.
“It was a different feeling being in Zurich and talking to today’s and yesterday’s stars.
“Raul, Figo and Beckham wanted to find out why I was being honoured and what happened when I saved an opponent’s life.”
Sumaila Abdallah came to the attention of FIFA after he was recommended by Ghanaian Journalist Ibrahim Sani Darra for saving the life of an opponent, Charles Taylor with mouth-to mouth resuscitation.
Charles Taylor, who on the day had already given Hearts of Oak the lead in the FA Quarter final game that ended 1-0 attempted a bicycle-kick and collapsed on the pitch afterwards.
Sumaila rushed to his aid and revived the forward with a kiss of life.
“I was about to take the resultant goal-kick, when I realised that Taylor was motionless,” said Sumaila.
“Immediately, I administered a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save him before the medical team arrived.”
Sumaila’s heroics wasn’t only recognized by FIFA’s awards body, he also received a congratulatory message from FIFA president Joseph Blatter and CAF president, Issah Hayatou.
The Ghana Football Association as well awarded the Nima boy a personalized trophy.
Twenty one years on and Sumaila is still excited of what he achieved in December 2001.
“I’m very happy to have this award. I’m very excited to have these two awards [in reference to the FIFA and GFA award],” Sumaila told MahamaShaibu.com.
“Sometimes when I wake up and see the award in my museum, I feel like crying because it is vey hard to have this award, coming second in the FIFA Fair Play Award is something that makes me happy.
Despite being proud and elated to be recognized, Sumaila believes he hasn’t earned the recognition he deserves, especially from recent Ghana Football FAs.
“Ghana doesn’t recognize the award, some don’t know me, even at the GFA. But I’m happy to have the award, I give thanks to Allah that I’m still alive,” Sumaila said.
Sumaila Abdallah is now a retired goalkeeper and the current goalkeeper’s trainer for Division One side, Nania FC, a team owned by Ghana legend, Abedi Pele.