Kwadwo Poku - New York City FC - close-up
USA Today Sports

Former NYCFC cult hero Kwadwo Poku lands with a Champions League team in one of UEFA's newest leagues

Kwadwo Poku, a Ghanaian attacking midfielder who remains a cult hero for his performances during NYCFC's inaugural season, has signed a deal that could soon see him playing Champions League football on the Iberian Peninsula.

Just not how most people might think of it.

Poku is heading to Europa FC, the club that is set to represent the Gibraltar National League in 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League qualifying after finishing atop the 2019-2020 league table when the COVID-19 pandemic brought play to a halt. The club announced Poku's signing on Saturday.

Poku made a name for himself during the Cityzens' expansion season, flourishing primarily as a substitute for coach Jason Kreis while scoring four goals and adding seven assists in league play. In the process, the then-23-year-old was named to the league's 24 Under 24 list.

The arrival of new manager Patrick Vieira in NYCFC's second season spelled the end of Poku's MLS career, however. He was sold to Miami FC of the NASL during the 2016 season, and has since had stops in Russia and at the USL's Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Europa FC technically haven't won the league since 2017, since the past season was declared null and void with no official champion, but they'll still get their second shot in club history at UEFA Champions League qualifying. Last season in Europa League qualifying, after defeating Sant Julia of Andorra, they fell 3-0 to Polish giants Legia Warsaw on aggregate, holding them to a 0-0 draw at home. 

The small British overseas territory of roughly 34,000, located on a small peninsula bordered by Spain to the north, is one of UEFA's and FIFA's  newest member associations, having affiliated with the former in 2013 and the latter in 2016.