The 'Afcon Rise of' Series is a collaborative initiative between Goal and 3 Kilo featuring up-and-coming writers. 3 Kilo is a development agency that creates opportunities and skills development projects for the youth of South Africa.
Recently named the captain who will lead the Black Stars to this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, Andre Ayew will have fond memories of returning to Egypt, where he captained the U20 Ghanaian team that eventually lifted the World Cup trophy in 2009. A lot of time has passed since then, and this year’s showpiece presents a host of new challenges for the Black Stars.
Andre Ayew's early life
Born into a proud footballing family, Dede and his two brothers were raised by an African legend, who, in some circles, is regarded as the greatest African footballer of all time.
Abedi “Pele” Ayew made his name in France with Marseille and was crowned the African footballer of the year on three occasions. His three sons’ destinies were almost predetermined, as all of them eventually became professional footballers.
Andre, the middle brother, started his football development at the club that his father was signed to at the time, 1860 Munchen, and his coaches' mandate was simple, turn Andre into an Adebi Pele. In 1998 Andre then moved with his family back to Ghana and continued his football development at his family-owned club, Nania.
Andre Ayew 's club career
With the ultimate goal of making it big in Europe like his father, Andre then returned to another of his father’s former clubs, Marseille. After growing through their development structures, he made his professional debut in 2007 for the club at the age of 18. In his first season he managed a total 13 league appearances and two in the Champions league.
Subsequently, he attracted attention from Premier League sides like Arsenal, who were keen on developing him further. Marseille declined all interests in the player but unfortunately for Andre, the following season saw an influx of talent to the club and Andre fell out of favour. He was then sent out on loan two Lorient and Arles-Avignon.
In 2010, Marseille coach Didier Deschamps announced the return of Andre Ayew with a new three-year contract at the club. Andre had a brilliant season and was voted Player of the Year at Marseille and nominated as best young player in Ligue 1. Between that season and 2015, Andre Ayew grew to become an integral part of the Marseille team, contributing 145 appearances and 45 goals.
Andre’s next move was set to be his biggest as he was heading to the English Premier League with Swansea FC. It was a proud time in the Ayew family as his younger brother Jordan also signed with an EPL team, Aston Villa. The move was justified by his father saying: “The Premier League is important for Ghanaians and Africans and that is why we decided they should go there.”
At Swansea, Andre won over the club and the fans with good performances. He featured in 34 matches and was their top scorer in the 2015/16 season. Unfortunately for the Swans, this achievement meant he again caught the eyes of other English clubs and before the next season West Ham United made a club record bid for the player, bringing him to London Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Hammers, Andre’s time with them saw him slip in and out of top form because of injury, however still contributed 12 goals in 50 games in all competitions. In 2018, Andre moved back to the Swans with his brother Jordan. The season did not end well as the Welsh side got relegated out of the English Premier League. In an attempt to remain in top-flight football, Andre secured a move to Turkish giants Fenerbache, where he completed the remainder of the season.
“It will be tough, but we promise our national fans that we are in it to win it."
The whole nation of Ghana will be waiting to see this promise fulfilled.
Currently ranked fifth on the African continent, Ghana will hope to secure their fifth Afcon title.