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African Football HQ: Is Essien Africa’s greatest midfielder?

15:32 GMT 17/03/2021
AFHQ Essien
The Chelsea powerhouse had a glittering career, but what made him such a legendary talent?

Michael Essien’s legacy is the big talking point in African Football HQ this week, with Prince Narkortu Teye our special guest to discuss the Bison’s career.

Alongside Malek Shafei, Goal’s Ghana specialist reviews the biggest and best moments of Essien’s career, and also remembers the attributes that made him such a star performer.

“Fierce,” is the word that Prince chooses to define the Bison’s career, with the midfielder never anything less than wholly committed whether he was playing for club or country.

‘Essien really was a hard-worker,” Narkortu Teye told Shafei. “He was a player who was always focused on developing his game, taking it to the next step, not interested in the public attention. “It was about hard work, making his statement on the pitch.”

Prince lauds Essien’s all-round contribution on the field, his versatility, his passing ability, his goalscoring quality, while also celebrating his attitude and mentality.

The fact that the Bison didn’t court controversy with his off-field actions is also something that earned him respect among journalists and fans alike, according to the Ghanaian football expert, with Essien only making headlines for his footballing qualities rather than his controversies.

As well as winning the Premier League with Chelsea, clinching the FA Cup, and being part of the side that won the Champions League, Essien was also influential as Ghana reached their first World Cup in 2006.

Injury cost him a part in the team that reached the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and could things have been different for the Black Stars had their star performer been in the heart of that side?

Before arriving at Chelsea in 2005, embarking on a nine-year stay at Stamford Bridge, Essien started his career in France with SC Bastia—having signed from Liberty Professionals in his homeland—and then with Olympique Lyonnais.

He enjoyed a close relationship with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea as he enjoyed some of his peak years in West London.

The midfielder, who is currently a coach at Danish heavyweights FC Nordsjaelland, went on to feature for the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan and Panathinaikos before taking his leave of European football with Persib Bandung of Indonesia.

He also represented Azeri side Sabail before hanging up his boots and embarking on a coaching career.