John Mensah has his godfather to thank for correctly predicting that Ghana would qualify for two successive World Cups and Sunderland�s new signing has also been told what to expect on Wearside � but that�s staying a secret!
Mensah made his Premier League debut in the 4-1 victory over Hull City on Saturday. That coincided with a presentation made on his behalf to an orphanage in his homeland following his move to England.
The 27-year-old left his home country as a teenager but never forgot his Ghanaian roots and always turns to God for advice when faced with decisions. He did exactly that when Sunderland were trying to sign him from Lyon and was given complete backing from Reverend Joseph Koshy at his home Methodist Church.
"I�m big on Christianity and my godfather, the Reverend, promised me that we would make it to the World Cup in 2006. He promised me that as soon as I played for my country. Thank God we did qualify," said Mensah. "He also promised me that we would qualify for the 2010 World Cup and we have. I thank God for that.
I also spoke to him when I was about to leave for England and he told me there�d be no problems at Sunderland. "He told me �Wherever you go, God will always be with you�. He has promised me something about Sunderland, but that�s a secret. He will always pray for the team while I�m playing. I just need to play for the team and stay focused on it."
It�s his godfather who nicknamed him the Rock of Gibraltar. "Or the Pillar of Hercules, as other people know it," said Mensah. "My godfather knows how I played my football and he has followed my movement, every movement, every match I have played and he gave me this name."
Sunderland have first option to turn Mensah�s loan deal into a permanent arrangement at the end of the season, when he hopes to have impressed enough to stay around. But while it often takes time for foreign imports to the Premier League to adapt, he is convinced he will be able to adjust quickly having spent the last ten years playing in Italy, Switzerland and France.
"I have played in World Cups, African Cups and played in many teams. This is my first time in England but I�m sure I will get used to it," said Mensah, who sees himself as a centre-back. Mensah is encouraged by what Steve Bruce is trying to achieve at Sunderland and thinks it is possible to finish higher than the seventh place they currently occupy.
"I�m excited to be here. I have arrived from a big team to another big team, Sunderland have great potential and have some great players," said the vice-captain of Ghana. "I�m not worried about turning my back on Champions League football with Lyon.
"All of this squad are playing well and they have some very good players. "I can�t predict whether we will do this or that, but I�m sure with this squad we can get even higher than where we are."
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