MILAN – Joseph Alfred Duncan grew up in Ghana and went to Aggrey Memorial A.M.E. Zion Senior High School in Cape Coast, where his father Thomas sent him to study. Not far from there is the 'Door of No Return' – the gateway to the city's castle prison where, in colonial times, many Africans said goodbye to Africa before crossing the Atlantic and facing the hardships imposed on them by the slave traders of the Old Continent. But for a young student in 2009, leaving the city meant first and foremost finding his own path in life.
Alfred found his path and his pitch, not on the streets of Accra, where he kicked his first football as a kid, but on the grass fields of Europe, Italy, Milan. And Inter.
His first port of call was Pistoia, where the 16-year-old was welcomed in by a foster family, but it wasn't long before he was signed by Inter. Due to bureaucratic problems he was only registered two years later, eventually joining up with the Nerazzurri Primavera in 2011 and making his debut in the Viareggio tournament against an Anderlecht side featuring Dennis Praet and Jordan Lukaku.
A few months after that he proved his worth in a play-off against AC Milan, coming off the bench and playing a crucial role in getting Inter get back into the game before the Nerazzurri eventually went out on penalties. Success was just around the corner, though.
The following season, under Andrea Stramaccioni, Duncan helped the Nerazzurri U19s claim the league title and was instrumental in their NextGen Series triumph.
Having made his debut for the first team, he was then a member of the Ghana side that finished third in the U20 World Cup.
All the time he was improving at Inter but he knew nothing beats experience, so he returned to Tuscany, joining Livorno on loan. There he played his part in their promotion to Serie A, before enjoying a positive spell at Sampdoria and finally moving to Sassuolo in 2015.
Now it's fair to say the boy has come of age: more tactically disciplined, he boasts an explosive left foot and is handy at both ends of the pitch.
Duncan's European adventure with Sassuolo proved short-lived due to some niggling injuries, which mean he won't be involved against Inter on Sunday. He can still harbour dreams of success with Ghana though, where the boy now returns a man as part of the senior set-up.