Isaac “Nana” Addai comes from the humblest of beginnings; his career in soccer began when he was spotted playing in a refugee camp. A civil war in Liberia forced a young Isaac to move to Ghana with his grandmother.
He would go on to play for Accra’s Sovereign Academy for five years before joining Buduburam FC and Bago FC for one and two years respectively. He would return to Liberia after the war, but he would later make the decision to come to America to follow his soccer dream.
“I have played soccer my whole life. As a kid in Liberia, soccer is the only sport we play to have fun. It was at first difficult living in a refugee camp with my grandmother, but it was also the beginning of my soccer career.”
That career included time as a professional in both Ghana and Liberia in addition to playing with Liberia’s U-23 national team. The latter was an obvious honor for the young playmaker.
“Playing for my country’s U-23 team was a dream come true. I have always dreamt one day to play for my national team and proudly represent Liberia in international competition. This is a dream for every soccer player.”
Addai admittedly was an unknown quantity when he arrived here in the U.S. and his journey to NPSL stardom wasn’t easy.
He was encouraged to try out for the Rhode Island Reds two years ago, but he didn’t feel like he was ready for the level of the NPSL. So he headed off to the Rhode Island Oceaneers, where he would be named to the ASL’s All-Star team after piling up goals and assists for the now-defunct side. He adjusted well to the American style of play even though it was very different than what he saw in Africa.
“The professional game in Liberia and Ghana is very physical, technical, and the game is fast. The greatest players played in these leagues. I learned a lot playing with great players from both Liberia and Ghana.”
He would return to the Reds this year, arguably becoming the top player on the team. Coming over to the NPSL was an easy decision for Addai.
“After talking to people I know who played in the NPSL I was told this is a great league to play in if you want to further your career in soccer in the U.S. or Europe because many players have been given these opportunities through the NPSL.”
Addai has already tallied 11 goals and four assists for the Reds and the season is not even over yet. That total puts him just one shy of the team record for goals and among the league’s top goalscorers. Simply put, Addai is that good.
“I have worked with lots of players around Rhode Island and Southern New England I have never met a talented player who is more professional and humble than Isaac,” Rhode Island Reds Owner and Director of Football Operations Kabba D. Joof added. “He is world-class in my opinion. The kid was born to be a professional soccer player.”
Reds head coach Mario Pereira shared similar thoughts on Addai’s potential.
“Since day one at tryouts I knew Isaac was the real deal. He has met all my expectations and more. He has glue for feet and there is no doubt that he is ready for the professional game.”
So what do you get with Addai? The player himself happens to describe it best.
“I’m a team player, a playmaker who wants to make the players around me successful,” Addai added. “I am a hard worker and a very dedicated soccer player who always wants to contribute to the success of my team and teammates.”
Addai, who is best deployed as an attacking midfielder, is very goal-oriented and has a plan for both the short- and long-term.
“My goals are to stay healthy, have a successful season with Rhode Island Reds, and hope we can make it to the playoffs and go to the final. My long-term goal is to keep working hard and, God willing, play for the Liberia senior national team. I also want to be a professional in the U.S. or Europe.”
Such ambitious goals are much more attainable when you have the talent of Isaac Addai.