Michael Essien arguably has seen it all in the pinnacle of world football. On the street, a lay man can point it out that here is a player who has been on the pitch in every competition that matters in Association football.
He has represented his country Ghana at the World cup, and the AFCON; Chelsea in the World club competition, Uefa champs league amongst others. Obviously such honours do not come effortlessly and definitely will make any player in such shoes, outstanding.
However, there are some outstanding unique achievements that sets Michael Essien nicknamed ‘the bison’ for his strength on the field of play above any other Ghanaian footballer.
Names like Abedi Pele Of Olympique Marseilles fame, Tony Yeboah with Eintracht Frankfurt and Leeds as well as Emmanuel Osei Kufour with Bayern Munich in his hey days readily will come to mind to make a case for the West African country as one with a huge array of talented footballers but the midfielder stands tall.
Here are the 5 achievements that makes Michael Essien the most outstanding Ghanaian player.
Most Expensive African Player
Having made his first professional club debut for French league one side Bastia on 30 September 2000 in a league match against Metz where he came on as a substitute, Essien developed into a well groomed midfielder by Gerrard Gill which made him attract offers from PSG, Lyon, and Marseille.
He opted for Olympique Lyon where he won the league title twice and was voted as The best midfielder and best foreign player in the french league. Soon he became one of the most sought after in world football.
Lyon and Chelsea agreed a whooping £24.4 million for Essien on August 14, 2005, which ended one of the longest-running transfer sagas. This fee at the time, made him Chelsea’s most expensive signing of all time and the highest paid for an African player ever, beating the £24 million Chelsea paid for Didier Drogba the previous summer.
Third Best Player In Africa
2006 could be a memorable year for Essien when he won the Premier League and guided Ghana to the last 16 of the World Cup. He was nominated for both the 2006 Ballon d’Or and the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year award, in a year where he came third in CAF’s African Footballer of the Year award and was named BBC African Footballer of the Year. It was a fitting celebration and recognition for one of the continent’s star performers.
His Great Goals You Need To See
Essien’s knack for goals made him rare kind of midfield player that any coach would dream of having. He powered in one of the greatest goal of his remarkable stint at Chelsea. It was a last-gasp curling stunner from a long distance that earned Chelsea a needed point against Arsenal and ensured the club’s longstanding unbeaten record at home under Mourinho remained unblemished. Chelsea fans later voted it the club’s Goal of the Season.
The same goal was given recognition at the club’s end-of-season awards event, where he was Chelsea’s Player of the Year to become the first African named in such honour.
Essien came back after a two months injury lay off and scored another classic: a left-footed volley in the Champions League semi-final second-leg against FC Barcelona at Stamford Bridge. That goal was voted the club’s finest of the concluding season and also nominated for Fifa’s Puskas Award, and made Chelsea’s 2009 Goal of the Season.
A Third-straight Fifa World Player of The Year Nomination
In October, 2007, Essien received a third-straight Fifa World Player of the Year nomination only to place 15th and weeks later, earned nominations for the Ballon d’Or and African Footballer of the Year awards.
163 Premier League Appearances
In January 2012, Six months after his freshest injury, Michael Essien returned to celebrate another milestone for Chelsea in a game against Sunderland where they won 1-0. It was the Chelsea legend’s 150th Premier League appearance for the Blues. Such achievements do not come on a silver platter. He went on play 163 league matches for the club before joining Real Madrid.
His rare and outstanding nature has also seen him play for no mean lesser teams as Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid and AC Milan who all pass for prestigious clubs status.
Having been capped about 66 times, his international caps was blighted with some major injuries and it is only fair to say that his international career has not been too exciting; a situation he is very much aware.
“Playing for your country is an honour. I love my country and I always want to give back to them. It was a disappointment, but that’s football.” Essien told The Guardian in July 2015 after being forced out of the Black Stars camp by injury in preparation for the AFCON.
“I could have done with winning the Africa Cup of Nations. You can’t win them all,” he said.