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Opinions of Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Columnist: Rahman Osman

Obsession to be the best: The Andre Dede Ayew story

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Andre Ayew was born into one of the world’s greatest football families with his dad Abedi Ayew Pele regarded by many as the greatest African footballer of all time.

He has a special place in the hearts of the millions of Marseille fans after he played a key role in helping them win French footballs only European champions League trophy.

The dream of every father is to have his son take after him and even dwarf his achievement. It is not an easy pair of boots to fill if you are Andre but he is certainly making strides at it.

The second child of the ‘Soccer Maestro’ started playing colts football at an early age and by 14 he was signed by his father’s club Nania FC.

His performance at the Madina-based club propelled him to get a look in at Olympic Marseille, where his dad made his name.

After several years at the youth side of the French giants, he got promoted to the senior side but it was not going to be easy for him.

He was farmed out on loan to Lorient and Arles-Avignon in 2009 after struggling to break into the first team of Marseille then but it was clearly just a matter of when and not if.

He took the step down as a challenge and helped the latter to gain promotion to the elite French division in 2010.

The left-footed winger returned to Olympic Marseille a different player and he has never looked back.

He scored 60 goals for Marseille not only in domestic competitions but also in the Uefa Champions League against clubs like Dortmund, Inter Milan and Napoli.

After winning four trophies (two French League Cups and two French Super Cups) with Marseille, whose are past their glorious days, he decided to test his muscles in the much-revered English Premier League.

“Bring on the challenge”, he must have said but the results are that of distinction.

He announced his presence with a goal on his debut against the then defending champions, Chelsea. The match ended 2-2 at Stamford Bridge but his strike was enough to make the British press sit up and notice.

He scored one and assisted another to help Swansea defeat another giant Manchester United 2-1 in what is seen by many as the best game they had seen him play in.

His heroics got him to be crowned the PFA Player of the Month in August 2015 in what was his first month in the British Isles.

Ayew was not only being noticed for his football abilities but for his desire and determination that was visible in his eyes whenever he took to the pitch.

He finished the season as the club’s highest scorer with 12 league goals and he was unsurprisingly named Swansea’s best newcomer. Never an easy feat given the level of competition in England.

With that kind of consistency, Swansea City were always going to struggle to hold on to their most priced asset who they ironically got for free.

The inevitable happened few days to the start of the new Premiership season after the Swans were offered £20.5m by Slaven Bilic’s West Ham.

The vice-captain of Ghana is now a West Ham player for a club record fee. That speaks volumes of how much he is valued by the East London club.

Critics have started questioning his price tag but he is worth every penny the Hammers coughed out.

How many strikers can fetch a mid table club like Swansea 12 goals? Let us add that the fact that Ayew was technically a winger and he was playing in England for the very first time and he had to work under three different managers at several points in the season.

Slaven Billic has got on his hands a player who can fit everywhere in attack. Be it left wing, right wing, behind a target man or as a striker himself.

Andre Ayew will re-unite with his former Marseille team mate Dimitri Payet, another player who lit up the EPL in his first season.

Armed with his brave heart and magic left foot, Ayew has proven to be ever ready for every challenge.

West Ham’s dream is to give the traditional top 4 contenders a stern challenge after back-to-back finishes in the Europa League places.

With the creativity of Payet, the physical presence of Carroll and Ayew’s energy and zeal, the Hammers are ready for a great season at their new home, the 60,000-seater Olympic Stadium.

The question is simple:

Ayew ready?????????????

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