Asamoah Gyan

Asamoah Gyan

Five years ago, Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan was no big star, merely going through the motions at Ligue 1 outfit Stade Rennes on a modest weekly salary of no more than a few tens of thousands of pounds.

Fast-forward to July 2015 and, following a big-money move to Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG, Gyan is set to rank among the ten best-paid footballers in world sport.

Just how did he make such a significant jump in so short a while?

Consider five reasons:


Gyan?s guts have proved a double-edged sword throughout his career but, relative to the trajectory of his club football, they?ve been more than helpful. Not many of his countrymen were pleased when Gyan, 29, deserted the bright lights of the English Premier League for Arabian adventures in 2011. But the dividends of his four-season stint with UAE?s Al Ain ? notably, 114 goals (he departs second in the club?s all-time scoring charts), a handsome collection of team and personal laurels, and a hefty bank balance to boot ? have been only too bountiful and left shrewd Gyan vindicated. It?s hard imagining his latest ?yenntie obiaa?-style career move yielding any less.


Gyan?s legend has largely been built on the back of personal milestones set at the three editions of the FIFA World Cup he has appeared at. In 2006, he scored the tournament?s fastest goal as Ghana blitzed past then No.2-ranked Czech Republic and came just a narrowly missed spotkick short of grabbing a brace. Four years later, he lit up South Africa with decisive strikes that propelled his country to the quarter-finals and, as captain of the Black Stars at Brazil 2014, struck a pair of goals which made him Africa?s leading goalscorer in the Mundial?s annals. Just the kind of achievements that would swing doors open for any footballer, wouldn?t you say?


Ironically enough, Gyan?s worst episode on the global stage ? namely, an unconverted last-gasp penalty-kick against Uruguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup ? might have done his reputation as much good as any of his positive experiences on that platform. Had that ball gone in, Ghana would have become Africa?s first World Cup semi-finalists, and Gyan would likely have earned a statue of himself at some roundabout in Accra or Kumasi as a tribute to his contributions to that feat. Failing to score, however, unwittingly secured his biggest transfer yet (speaking not in a strictly financial sense, mind), with England?s Sunderland snapping him up from Rennes soon after the tournament. Confused?

Well, Steve Bruce, then manager of the Black Cats, explains: ?He [Gyan] missed a big penalty against Uruguay but dusted himself down and stuck the second one in the top corner in the shoot-out.?

Well, touch?. . . it apparently was the fortitude Gyan displayed to score in the subsequent shoot-out which caught Bruce?s eye, but how much weight (if any at all, given the circumstances) would that have carried if the former Udinese man hadn?t missed earlier on?

Some mistakes do change your life for the better, and that certainly proved true in Gyan?s case. Sunderland ended up breaking their transfer record to purchase him, Al Ain came seducing with money-bags not too long thereafter, and the rest is rich, rich history.


Fun-loving, seemingly carefree Gyan might not, at first glance, strike as the most hardworking player but, if you observed what he had to endure as a young blossoming forward (particularly in his nation?s colours), you?d know he?s put tons of hours into honing his craft. From the goal-shy 22-year-old at the 2008 AFCON who?d fire twice as many shots into Row Z as he?d get on target (much to the ire of Ghana fans, needless to say) and who consequently threatened to pack out of camp when the kitchen got too hot, Gyan is now as matured and composed in mind as in front of goal. It all didn?t come by chance, you know.


What?s tangible proof that Gyan has progressed successfully, then? Goals ? the ultimate metric of any striker?s worth. Ultimately, that?s what it comes down to, and that?s what definitely puts money in the bank. And he?s got lots of them lately, hasn?t he?

Amid the controversies, lavish lifestyle, and musical cameos, finding the back of the net is probably the one thing many Ghanaians forget Gyan has learnt to do rather effortlessly.

His aforementioned haul for Al Ain aside, Gyan?s 48 strikes from 90 international outings make him his country?s most prolific (according to readily available figures). That?s two more than Lionel Messi has had in 13 extra matches for Argentina and also translates to a better goal-to-game ratio than Cristiano Ronaldo (55 in 120) boasts for Portugal.

Need I say more?



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