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Sports Features of Friday, 9 April 2010

Source: Amuna, Nick

The Success Story of Abedi Pele

When Mr. and Mrs. Ayew moved from Paga, a village in the Upper East Region of Ghana to a little town known as Oko near Accra, the capital city of Ghana, they never knew their son Abedi Ayew was going to grow up to become such a great and highly respected footballer around the world. Abedi Ayew popularly known as Abedi “Pele” was born in the mid sixties and played football barefooted for fun. Abedi attended and played football for the Dome Anglican primary School.

As a young boy, Abedi entertained the people of Oko and Dome playing football. Many children his age and even older had a tough time playing against Abedi Ayew because of the superb footballing skills. It did not take too long for a local club known as Great Falcons to sign him in the late seventies. Abedi Ayew then moved on to play for several football clubs in Ghana, Africa and Europe. Some of those clubs include Real Tamale United, Al Sadd, AS Dragons FC, Chamois Niort FC, FC Mulhouse, Marseille, Lille, Lyon, Torino, 1860 Munich and Al Ain.

Abedi Pele was one of the pioneers of African footballers to play professional football at Europe. He made Africa proud by making a positive impact playing for top clubs in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. Many football fans around the world got to know more about Abedi Ayew during his playing career at Marseille of France. His excellent performance for Marseille during the UEFA Champions league made him even more popular around the world.

Some of his major honors and awards at club level include, Emir’s Cup winner with Al AIn FC in 1999, Prince of Qatar Cup winner with Al-Sadd winner in 1983, French League and Cup double winner with Marseille in 1989, French league 1 winner with Marseille in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992, European Cup finalist with Marseille in 1991, and the winner of the UEFA Champions League with Marseille in 1993.

As a teenager, Abedi Ayew represented Ghana at the International level by playing for Ghana in the 1982 African Cup of Nations. He has since represented Ghana at the international level until the late 1990,s when he retired from International football. He was the captain of the Ghana National Football team - The Black Stars from 1992 to 1998. Abedi Pele holds the record for most appearances at the African Cup of Nations. Abedi Ayew played as many as 73 International games for Ghana scoring 33 goals for Ghana. He was also one of the first African footballers to be considered for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award. He was shortlisted for the award in 1991 and 1992. Even though he did not win the FIFA Player of the year award, Abedi Ayew is one of the most respected African footballers. He was also one of the African players to win the French Magazine African Footballer of the year award three times, and the BBC sports person of the year award.

Some of his honors and awards at the International level include, African Cup of Nations finalist medal in 1992, African Cup of Nations winner in 1982, African Footballer of the Year in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Abedi Pele is also, one of the great footballers who did not play for his Nation at the World Cup. Notwithstanding the fact that he has never played at the World Cup, he was among the FIFA 100 greatest living footballers list released during the 100th anniversary of FIFA at a gala ceremony in London on 4 March 2004. He is rated among the top footballers around the world. Some of which include Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina, Zico of Brazil, Roger Milla of Cameroon, Bobby Charlton of England, Roberto Baggio of Italy, Marco van Basten of Holland, Eric Cantona of France and many more.

The success story of Abedi Ayew Pele did not end after his playing career. He continues to play a vital role in world football. He has participated in many FIFA organized charity games around the world. He played a vital role in South Africa’s bid to host the World Cup on African soil for the first time in the history of world football. Abedi Pele is a very kind hearted professional, and has given back to many young talented footballers in Ghana. He has given many Ghanaian footballers the opportunity to play professional football in Europe by arranging trials with European clubs and have succeeded in getting most of them contracts to play overseas.

Abedi Pele also owns a Division One League Club known as Nania F.C. in Ghana. It is believed by many that he named his division one club after his Village in the Northern part of Ghana. It is the wish of most great footballers to have their children grow up to become professional footballers like themselves, but as we all know such stories are not common around the world. But in Abedi Pele’s case, just as he won the African Player of the year award three times, he has succeeded in raising three young and talented footballers. What a double hat trick for Abedi Pele. His children are already very popular on the world stage. His two sons Rahim Ayew and Dede Ayew were part of the Ghanaian team that lost to Egypt at the recent African Cup of Nations final at Angola in 2010. His son Dede Ayew who plays his professional football in France led the Ghanaian under 20 team to World Cup victory. The first time an African Nation has won the World Cup at the under 20 level. His youngest son Jordan is also a professional footballer currently playing for a French club. Incase you don’t know, his brothers Kwame, Kofi, and Sugu Ayew have also played professional football. What a blessed family, full of football talent.

What a journey for Abedi Ayew Pele and his family. I believe strongly that Abedi Pele will be looking forward to seeing his children do what he did not get the opportunity to do, and that will be his sons representing Ghana at the 2010 World Cup on an African Soil. Abedi Ayew Pele the “maestro” should be proud of his achievements. He has done it all, and is a great African success story. I want to end by encouraging Abedi Ayew Pele to add public speaking to his football career. He is an encouragement to the poor in Ghana and Africa. Abedi Ayew Pele, please give the hopeless a new hope by sharing your story in the form of public speaking or by writing a book. God bless you and your entire family for making Ghana proud.

By: Nick Amuna, USA, Email: nicamuna@yahoo.com

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