Despite the best efforts of the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joao Cancelo to redefine the position’s skill-set, a full-back is only ever as good as his ability to defend and to push forward when required.
But even by these lofty modern standards, Asante Kotoko’s Augustine Agyapong doesn’t fare too badly.
Snapped up by the Ghanaian giants from lower-tier side Delsanco just before the season began, Agyapong has quickly established himself as one of the best in the league, a dominant force down the right-hand side.
It has been a mesmeric rise for the young man who accepted the challenge of battling far more experienced players like Christopher Nettey and Samuel Appiah for the starting berth. Agyapong has successfully done so, with almost casual brilliance and a style that has won him plaudits.
Parallels have even been drawn with one of the finest right-backs in Kotoko’s modern history, Samuel Inkoom, a player still remembered fondly for the smoothness and subtlety that characterised his play.
Agyapong is physically strong, pacey, and extremely good in the air, while displaying solid technical skills on the deck. Gifted in possession and a key component in starting attacks from defence, he excels with the ball at his feet and is also confident enough to play passes between the lines.
Passes across longer distances – even across the field, often sent to the address of Imoro Ibrahim, his partner on the other flank – aren’t any harder for Agyapong to pull off, though; only one of the many strings to his bow.
He has shown the capability to play at full-back due to his speed but is equally adept in a right-wing-back role, drawing on great versatility and composure to do so. It doesn’t hurt, either, that Agyapong is naturally two-footed, does it?
To be this well-endowed and able to impress at an age so tender is rather remarkable. Most 18-year-olds might be content with a place on the bench and the opportunity for a breakthrough or, perhaps, still honing their skills in academies or amateur leagues; just not Agyapong, who has gone and grabbed it all and is now reaching for even more.
The ability to attack as well as defend is a common trait of the modern full-back, as mentioned at the outset, but that is mainly manifested in the form of overlapping runs and crosses. Agyapong can do all that and then some, but the Alexander-Arnolds and Cancelos have succeeded in adding an extra box to be ticked: goal-scoring.
That bit had been missing from Agyapong’s game, until he opened his scoring account for the Porcupine Warriors on Sunday evening when Bibiani Gold Stars came visiting.
Teed up by a quickly-taken Richmond Lamptey set-piece, and helped on its way by a kind deflection, Agyapong lashed home from outside the box for the third of Kotoko’s five goals.
It wasn’t by any means the cleanest of strikes – likely to be saved, in fact, had the ball headed in its intended direction – but not a bad one to get off the mark with, given the range and the guts it took to shoot from that far out.
With that, Agyapong would hope to have unlocked a new level – and that, considering what we’ve seen already, is a truly wonderful prospect.