Ghana is known and loved for many things not least of which is its propensity to breed outstanding football players. Guys like Mohammed Ahmed Polo and Karim Abdul Razak are local legends – the dazzling comets of the Black Stars.
These home-grown giants aren’t one-off wonders. Since its launch in 1992 more than 25 Ghanaians have played in the English Premier League. Now men like Jordan Ayew, Jeffrey Schlupp and Christian Atsu continue the proud tradition by plying their trade for the likes of Crystal Place and Newcastle United.
It is not only the English Premiership that has scouted out some of the finest players in Ghana. The Bundesliga, Ligue I, La Liga and Eredivisie have all tasted the pace, power and physicality that defines players born and raised in Accra, Kumasi and Kibi.
These are the type of men who take every opportunity they can get – from gambling high stakes at an online casino South Africa to moving half way across the world to play football. They understand the risks but are more focussed on the rewards instead.
Who are these men? Let’s take a look at four of the greatest Ghanaian football players of all-time, men who have competed in the toughest leagues of all… and become cult heroes in the process.
Michael Essien played in the midfield for clubs like Lyon, Chelsea, Milan and Real Madrid. During his tenure with Lyon he won back to back league titles and bagged the highly coveted Ligue 1 Player of the Year award.
He was hot, so darn hot, that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho paid £24.4 million for his formidable talents – that is more than what he had reportedly paid for Didier Drogba the season before.
The Essien – Mourinho partnership flourished at Stamford Bridge, so much so the Accra born footballer was widely regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world!
‘The Bison’ as he was called due to his immense power and physicality was a lethal tackler and an awesome long-range striker who was equally good in defence as he was in attack.
Essien wasn’t all brawn and bluff. He had a solid technique, extraordinary vison and a tactical nous that was a cut above that of most of his team mates. The affable Ghanaian with a beaming smile was the real deal and the driving force behind Chelsea’s success at the time.
As the standout midfielder in England, Essien was the first African ever to be anointed Chelsea Player of the Year. He was also a two-time recipient of the Chelsea Goal of the Season Award.
By the time Michael Essien left Chelsea for Real Madrid he had won two league titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and the crème de la crème, the UEFA Champions League! What a man – what a player!
Samuel Kuffour will go down in the annals of history as one of the best defenders in the game. He will also wear the mantle of being the youngest player ever to score in the Champions League.
The Kumasi born footballer reached his peak playing for Bundesliga club Bayern Munich, a club that was his home away from home for 11 straight seasons. While at the Allianz Arena Kuffour won six – yes six – Bundesliga titles, four domestic cups and the highest honour in Europe, the Champions League.
He was tight in defence, powerful in attack and his dribbling skills were more than noteworthy, they were memorable. If football pundits had to identify one of Kuffour’s outstanding strengths it was his ability to read the game that was so remarkable.
The burly defender won the BBC Africa Footballer of the Year award and is a three-time Ghanaian Footballer of the Year. Samuel Kuffour won 54 caps for the Black Stars and is named as one of the Top 30 Best African Players of All-time!