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Sports Features of Friday, 11 March 2011

Source: Daily Guide

Putting Yourself In Essien’s Shoes

Chelsea midfield ace, Michael Essien has come under a barrage of Ghanaian media chastisement since he denied claims that he will be available for the Ghana-Congo clash.

Experts of the game and lay persons alike have directed castigation of various forms at the Blues star for his stance.

But after reflecting on the player’s decision and a testimony the Ghana Football Association (GFA) made about the player, I decided to reflect on the matter using a different binoculars.

Do not get me wrong, I am not a Blue fan; neither have I received a ‘special envelope’ from the player or from his PR outfit.

A close source to the Blues has revealed that the player has come under severe pressure from his employers to concentrate on club issues.

The source has added that the player’s employers did not take Essien’s two successive injuries when he was on national assignment against Libya and Cote d’Ivoire in World/Nations Cup qualifiers lightly, hence their stance.

A further probe into the matter indicates that it was the London-based club that bore all the medical bills of the midfielder on the two occasions he got injured while on national assignment.

Essien’s employers have every reason to lay embargo on the player, at least for a while and I want to believe that was what compelled the player to request a sabbatical recess.

Essien has a point, and some of us, including me, who chastised the poor man, must give him a break.

The Laryea Kinston ‘super patriotism’ episode where he defied the orders of his employers (Hearts of Scotland) and flew down to play for Ghana, should be enough example for the Chelsea star.

After all, he was not part of the squad that went to South Africa for Ghana’s second World Cup, but the team lived up to expectation.

If Essien had failed to return to the pitch after the injury, that would have been his end, and I strongly believe that the same people crucifying him would have been nowhere to be found.

May be his PR machinery did not manage the information well. He has been quiet on the issue since then; but I think coming out to tell his story, will save him the insults.

Ghana, in recent months, has chalked successes without him, but he is a superstar and the team needs him. His presence in the team alone is enough to attract attention that will allow budding midfielders like Kwadjo Asamoah and others to operate effectively.

Black Stars’ Serbian trainer Goran Stevanovich is reported to have met him at his London base. I am yet to find out what transpired in the meeting. If he is still standing by his word, so be it. But let’s give him a break.