HAVERHILL — For most of Michael Kwegyir-Attah’s youth, “football” did not elicit images of helmets and shoulder pads.
Instead, “futball” meant a round ball and a large net.
“I thought of soccer,” said Kwegyir-Attah. “It’s still a little weird.”
Born in London, England to a family from the African country of Ghana, Kwegyir-Attah grew up obsessed with soccer, as a dedicated fan and player through his sophomore year in high school.
So even Kwegyir-Attah would never have guessed that, just over a year after playing football for the first time, he would develop into Haverhill High’s most feared linebacker who has received attention from Division 1-AA college programs.
Through three games, Kwegyir-Attah has made 16 tackles, picked off a pass and blocked two field goals for a Hillies squad that is 2-1 heading into tonight’s key MVC Division 2 matchup with 4-0 Methuen High.
“It took two years to convince him to play, but we are sure glad he came out,” said Hillies coach Tim O’Connor. “His versatility is great and his athleticism is special. You can’t teach 6-foot-2, 215 pounds with a 4.7 40 (yard dash). With a big year, I believe the sky is the limit for college football.”
Kwegyir-Attah spent the first three-plus years of his life in London, where his parents moved after leaving Ghana.
He and his mother then spent much of the next few years moving from home to home, first immigrating to Chicago when he was 4-years-old before moving to New Jersey, Worcester and finally Haverhill when he was 13-years-old.
“It was tough always having to meet new people and make new friends,” said Kwegyir-Attah, who has very limited contact with his father, who remains in England. “But life goes on and you have to adjust. When my mom said we were moving to Haverhill I said, ‘What’s Haverhill?’ I had only heard of Lowell in this area.”