Esso Is Living the Dream, and Hearts Can Only Cast Covetous Glances
When Joseph Esso was signed by Accra Hearts of Oak from fellow Ghana Premier League side Ebusua Dwarfs ahead of the 2017/18 season, not much was known of the forward.
By the time he bade farewell to Hearts some three years later, however, Esso wasn’t merely known in the capital; he was loved, too.
It certainly wasn’t because of his numbers — just six goals in 27 games, a drop from his tally at Dwarfs (nine in 25). What Esso lacked in goals, though, he more than made up for with sheer industry, good hold-up play and the selflessness to tee up others to score.
His performances were good enough to catch the eye of Maxwell Konadu, then coach of Ghana’s home-based Black Stars, as the team prepared to defend its WAFU Cup title in 2019. There, in Senegal, Esso helped secure silver, playing off ex-Ashantigold star Shafiu Mumuni.
The latter would go on to make the team of the tournament, having finished topscorer; Esso, with his two goals and overall impressive displays, was in there, too.
Back at Hearts, Esso retained the affection and confidence of his teammates and fans, and was one of the first names on the team-sheet even in a period when there was little consistency in the club’s technical leadership.
It’s why news of Esso’s departure last year to join Dreams FC, another top-flight side, left the Phobian ranks crestfallen. Those pained sentiments were echoed at the time by former Hearts striker Gilbert Fiamenyo, in an interview on Max FM’s SportsBiz.
“I don’t know why Hearts allowed Esso to leave,” he said.
“He is a very talented player, and you don’t allow such guys to leave easily; you do your best to make them stay. But it is better he even went to Dreams and not Kotoko.”
Any consolation drawn from the fact that Esso didn’t end up with a direct rival — certainly not Hearts’ biggest — has quickly dried up, however, in light of his performances for Dreams.
Following a difficult start to the current league season, Esso has sparked to life, especially since Dreams appointed Serbian Vladislav Viric as trainer, and is exhibiting a level of prolificacy in front of goal that he hardly seemed capable of.
Eight goals in his last seven games, including a hat-trick when Ashantigold visited Dreams’ Dawu home in the latest match-week, have him atop the scoring chart, alongside Karela United’s Diawisie Taylor, as the only players to have hit double digits almost halfway into the campaign.
The prospect of Esso adding goals to his already impressive bouquet of attacking contributions always looked promising, and now that he has managed it, Hearts — whose platform was supposed to bring the best out of the 24-year-old, remember? — would wonder why it didn’t happen a little earlier in his career.
Esso, in his goodbye message to Hearts’ faithful, wrote: “I have reached a decision on my career path and hope you understand the need for fresh challenge just as each one of you should when you have the chance to live your dreams.