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Ultimate Ghana dream team: Abedi Pele & Essien in, Gyan out

12:30 PM IST 24/11/22
Ghana dream team Essien Abedi Pele
There's no place for Asamoah Gyan in the Black Stars' greatest-ever XI, which is testament to their strength

Few African nations have developed as many talented players as Ghana, who have produced six African Footballer of the Year winners and enjoyed the services of some of the continent’s all-time greats.

But who would make an all-time XI of the Black Stars’ finest players?

We’ve selected the best of the country’s legendary team from the 1960s, the Africa Cup of Nations-winning heroes of 1978 and the generation that reached the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup to put together the ultimate Ghana Dream Team.

  • Robert Mensah

    GK: Robert Mensah

    A giant of the domestic game, Mensah was part of the legendary Asante Kotoko team of the 1960s that culminated in victory in the African Clubs Cup in 1970.

    He also featured for the Black Stars at both the Africa Cup of Nations and Olympic Games in 1968, winning a silver medal in the first event.

    Renowned for his playful antics on the pitch, as well as his awesome goalkeeping fundamentals, Mensah made enemies aplenty with his mockery of opposition strikers, occasionally even reading a newspaper while keeping guard between the sticks!

    Ghana was plunged into mourning when he was murdered - aged only 32 - in 1971.

  • Samuel Kuffour 2001 Champions League final Bayern Munich trophy

    CB: Samuel Kuffour

    Kuffour enjoyed a successful 12-year spell at Bayern Munich, an unprecedented feat for an African player to have such a long and trophy-laden tenure at one of Europe’s genuine elite.

    During that period, he won six Bundesliga titles, as well as the Champions League in 2001, having been on the losing side two years earlier when Manchester United’s treble-winners staged their remarkable Camp Nou comeback.

    Kuffour’s international career preceded the Black Stars’ glorious run at the 2010 World Cup, although he was part of the side that secured the nation’s first qualification for the global showpiece four years earlier.

  • CB: James Kuuku Dadzie

    An Africa Cup of Nations winner with Ghana in 1978, Dadzie was one of Africa’s finest defenders during the late 1970s and even made the Team of the Tournament for his performances en route to the title.

    He was also celebrated for his leadership skills, having captained the national side at the 1980 Afcon, and since retirement, has claimed that he’s the greatest central defender the national side has ever known.

    He represented both Sekondi Hasaacas and Asante Kotoko in his homeland, and has coached Ghana’s women’s team - among other assignments - since retirement.

  • CB: Charles Addo Odametey

    The first member of the glorious Ghana team of the mid-1960s to make the cut, Odametey captained the Black Stars to success at both the 1963 and 1965 Nations Cups as they established themselves as the team of the decade.

    The Hearts of Oak great was also a key figure in the side that reached the final three years later, only to fall to a fine Democratic Republic of Congo team.

  • Kwadwo Asamoah

    CM: Kwadwo Asamoah

    Even though injury ravaged some of Asamoah’s best years, he nonetheless achieved great things with a fine Juventus side and was also present for Ghana’s finest hour at the 2010 World Cup.

    He would go on to win six league titles and a swathe of domestic honours with Juve, as well as reaching two Champions League finals.

    Asamoah arguably reached his peak in 2014 when he was named in the Serie A Team of the Year.

    While injuries prevented him from truly enjoying the international career for which he once appeared destined, he did make the Nations Cup Team of the Tournament twice - reaching the final in 2010.

  • Essien - Chelsea vs Arsenal 2006-07

    CM: Michael Essien

    Another player whose career trajectory was undoubtedly affected by injuries, Essien was a phenomenon during his pomp, combining outrageous physical attributes with tenacity, game intelligence and technical prowess.

    After winning two French titles with Lyon, he took his place in Jose Mourinho’s title-winning Chelsea side, going on to clinch a Premier League under his mentor’s tutelage in 2006.

    The Bison missed the 2010 World Cup due to injury, and his impact was largely dimmed by fitness issues by the time of Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League success, but he’d still go on to represent some of Europe’s biggest clubs - namely AC Milan and Real Madrid.

    While Essien never won Caf’s African Footballer of the Year award, he was named runner-up - behind Frederic Kanoute - in 2007.

  • Karim Abdul Razak Ghana

    CM: Karim Abdul Razak

    Ghana’s Golden Boy was the Black Stars’ top performer at the 1978 Nations Cup - when they won their third title - and promptly followed up that triumph by winning the African Footballer of the Year award.

    Amidst several successful stints with his hometown club Asante Kotoko, Razak spent time with New York Cosmos in the NASL, playing alongside World Cup-winning duo Carlos Alberto and Franz Beckenbauer.

    Entering his 30s, he starred for Egyptian side Arab Contractors, twice being named Egyptian Footballer of the Year during his time with the club.

  • Osei Kofi

    RW: Osei Kofi

    Kofi was the star performer of Ghana’s 1965 Afcon-winning side, top scoring during that tournament as the Black Stars retained the title they’d won on home soil two years beforehand.

    Nicknamed the ‘Wizard Dribbler’, Kofi flummoxed defenders and tantalised fans alike with his sensational footwork and ability to stretch play, while he also offered an end product as well.

    He enjoyed an excellent goal record with domestic giants Asante Kotoko, winning six domestic titles and Africa’s top continental prize with the Porcupine Warriors.

    Currently 82, Kofi entered priesthood after retirement.

  • LW: Ibrahim Sunday

    Sunday won the second-ever African Footballer of the Year prize in 1971, pipping compatriot Robert Mensah to top spot in the continental POTY standings.

    Like Mensah and Kofi, he was an African champion with Asante Kotoko, but was twice a defeated Afcon finalist with the Black Stars.

    The talented forward broke new ground for continental players in 1975 when he signed for Werder Bremen, with the top-tier side impressed by his dribbling skills, creativity and leadership.

    While Sunday struggled to adapt to life in Germany - where his smaller stature counted against him - he remains a pioneer for African players, having been the first to feature in the Bundesliga.

  • Ghana's Abedi Pele chases the ball during Ghana's 2-1 victory today at Port Elizabeth in the First round of the 1996 African Cup of Nations

    AM: Abedi Pele

    Arguably Ghana’s greatest-ever player, Abedi Pele is one of the most dazzling talents ever produced in Africa and named the continent’s Footballer of the Year on three occasions.

    He was a Nations Cup winner with Ghana at the start of his international career, and while the Black Stars never again quite reached those heights, he did inspire them to the final again a decade after their most recent success.

    At club level, Pele was the first Ghanaian player to truly make his mark in the European game, and was one of the stars of the excellent Olympique de Marseille side that won the Champions League—in controversial circumstances—in 1993.

    His sons Andre and Jordan have also enjoyed long Black Stars careers and will represent the national side at the World Cup.

  • Tony Yeboah Leeds

    ST: Tony Yeboah

    Ghana were blessed with numerous lethal frontmen, including the likes of Opoku Nti, George Alhassan and even Asamoah Gyan, so picking our final striker was no easy choice.

    However, for his achievements in European football, and both for the quantity and quality of his goals, Yeboah gets the nod.

    Twice Bundesliga top scorer - the first African player to achieve the feat - Yeboah enjoyed a brief but sublime spell in the English game with Leeds United, where he at times appeared to have embarked on his own personal Goal of the Season competition.