Despite being new to professional football, he exceled at Roma’s youth teams, which earned him an invitation to train with the senior team in September.
Afena-Gyan made his debut in Roma’s 2-1 win over Cagliari and was again introduced in the club’s defeat to AC Milan in late October.
His cameo appearances, however, impressed manager Jose Mourinho and the Portuguese once again included him in the squad which faced Genoa last Sunday. Having struggled to break down their opponents, Mourinho brought on Afena-Gyan and he delivered beyond expectations.
Afena-Gyan: The match-winner against Genoa
The teen sensation came on in the 74th minute to replace the jaded Eldor Shomurodov. Eight minutes later, he was on the score sheet after beating the Genoa goalkeeper with a sweeping shot.
The Giallorossi continued to press and Afena-Gyan got his second goal deep into injury time when he scored from over 35 yards to seal a 2-0 victory for Roma.
It’s been a fairytale journey for the Ghanaian youngster, who has gone from an unknown player to being one of Mourinho’s favorites in just a few months.
For a teenager to come off the bench and influence a game the way he did against Genoa demands character and confidence. Afena-Gyan appears to have both in abundance at the moment.
Mourinho’s latest prodigy
Despite the narrative that Mourinho does not give young players a chance, there is enough evidence that he has helped nurture several talents.
At Chelsea, he took a young Mikel Obi under his wings and turned him into a fine defensive midfielder. He did the same with Scott McTominay, who is now a regular at Manchester United.
It appears Mourinho has found his latest prodigy in Afena-Gyan, having bought the teenager trainers worth €800 for his exploits against Genoa.
“Felix, along with another four or five, has been training with us since the start of the season," the Roma boss said, as quoted by Asroma.com. "When I first watched him, I think the thing that most impressed me was his calmness in front of goal.
“If he might not be a phenomenon in terms of his technique, in front of goal he is deadly," he added. "I was also struck by his humility, because often among the new generation you find kids who think they already know everything, who don’t have that humility. But he is the opposite.
“He is absorbing our attitude, both mine and that of his teammates," he continued. "You can see he’s learning off everyone. It’s great to see that evolution. I am just sorry for coach De Rossi because he has lost Felix – although I am sure he is very happy for the boy too.”
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Afena-Gyan is still very young and has a long way to go to even become a regular at Roma. However, he has shown that he has the temperament and talent to play a big role in the team and, under Mourinho, he could soon become a superstar.