BY Henking Klono Bi Adjase-Kodjo

From my own small corner, I have watched with dropping jaws the sensational Asamoah Gyan, captain of the senior national team, the Black Stars bask in his popularity. The man is talented and hardworking and so he is expected to eat from his toil and enjoy the fame that comes with it.
Asamoah GyanHis stardom and recognition in football circles aside, the young man seems to have gained additional popularity from causing a stir and riding on it to add some more layers to his increasing fame without much thought about what the ripples could be or, indeed, are on his reputation. What is of interest to me now is the stunning impunity with which he seems to react to the boos that swirl in response to issues around his personality.
The last public evidence of this seeming overconfidence and ?I don?t care? attitude was his showoff, amidst all this controversies, in a branded shirt with a mischievously teasing inscription ?Efe bo tai shi okw3?, literally meaning ?You are irritated but you simply can?t avoid watching?, as captured in page 46 of the Saturday July 11, 2015 edition of the Daily Graphic newspaper.
The name Asamoah Gyan now means too many things to different people. The brand, image, reputation or perception out there is mixed. There is the Asamoah Gyan who, in 2010, drew a dagger into the hearts of Ghanaians when he missed (or rather wasted) the all-important penalty kick against Uruguay that would have pushed his success-hungry side to a debut semi-final berth in the history of World Cups. The disaffection this single event created for him was just too big, virtually neutralising the many good things he has been doing on the quite including (one that personally touches my heart), the adoption of those Okwampa Bawjiase-based motherless triplets.
As a player, missing a penalty kick is just natural and so, though painful, it was relatively easier forgiving him, after all ?Pa ya l) l3 e yua did)?, as the Krobos would put it, loosely translated to mean ?The person who fills the pot with water is he who often breaks it?. Believe it or not, that event pitched him against the angry Ghanaian population though it also contributed a great deal in making him a house hold name in Ghana and spreading it further beyond borders.
It was this same Asamoah Gyan who was blown by the Castro-Janet Bandu whirlwind into a never dying fire and controversy. As a lead figure and a joint organiser of that infamous Ada rendezvous that led to the mysterious disappearance (death?) of the duo, Gyan could not escape criticism, accusation and plain insults particularly because of the myth surrounding the event. Castro and the friend remain unaccounted for till date; many are those who are still holding him (Gyan) accountable for the ?spilled blood? and will miss no opportunity to demand it from him especially because of the deep-seated feeling (entrenched by his silence) that he has something to hide with respect to the facts.
How about the ?decision? by the Gyans to go masculine on Daniel Kenu, a journalist who in his line of duty found an opportunity of coming face-to-face with ?the Gyan? to revisit the Castro issue and scoop some more fact? Doubtless, this chain of events did more harm than good to the man, Asamoah.
Just when this issue was hibernating, he made a quick return into the news again, this time with the accusation (against him) that his zip went wide open on the hunt for short-lived sexual pleasure (in a young girl who is threatening to spill into the public a documentary evidence of the act), resulting in a pregnancy that has since turned a hot cake for public/media consumption. He is said to have admitted ?knowing? the lady in question but denied paternity of the foetus and called for a test. This can only subtract from your reputation.
Elsewhere, this could have caused him his captain band like John Terry of England. He may quickly want to hinge his argument on the fact that Terry?s was an affair with the ex of his own team mate while his (Gyan?s) was a lady away from his profession, but it only tells him how a seemingly private and distant act could stream into your professional life and wreak havoc.
For someone his stature and who is at the center of all these controversial controversies which are still making waves in the media landscape, the least he should be doing is giving the impression that he is not pinched by what is happening and the attendant criticisms, and that his critics (the public) can go and hug a wet transformer, if they so desire.
Strangely, that is what he is doing (the impression I get), otherwise, what was he doing in that ?E fee bo tai shi O kw3? shirt? Who was he taunting or teasing with that inscription? Ghanaians who are sad that their number one footballer is making too many negative headlines and dragging the senior national team along with him into disrepute or the ?bereaved? families and friends of Castro and Janet who are still grieving over the disappearance of their own, or perhaps he found a target in his ?partner?, Sarah Kwablah, who is on the way to giving birth to an ?illegitimate? child (if the paternity test exonerates him). The decision to spot that shirt was just bad and below him; it couldn?t have been coincidence too, not when all three of them as appeared in the picture, (including his brother, Baafoe Gyan and manager, Simon Addo) were in same shirt with same inscription. It must have been specially designed and branded for the purpose.
You see my reasoning? And since he won?t have the chance to explain his actions to me and the many Ghanaians (or his fans), that is even the more reason why he should be mindful of what he does, unless of course that is his way of staying top of mind.
Many captained the team and many were those who were similarly great at the national and international levels but passed with little or no controversy. Right here in our backyard, we find an example in Stephen Appiah. Even in his retirement, he evokes a lot of respect, arising out of his humility, dignity, exemplary leadership, and carefully couched image, brand and reputation. You don?t have to be him; in fact, you can?t even be him but you can pick useful lessons from people like him. The PR that came with his testimonial match and the array of high profiled leaders who honoured his invitation could only be an endorsement of his refined brand and aura.
When he (Asamoah) steps off the pitch, and the spotlight is taken off him, how does he want to be remembered? Image is key and being a well-paid footballer should not put him in a bracket/world of his own where he doesn?t care about what others feel.
Coming from a PR background with a little knowledge in brand and reputation management, I see some things lacking that must be given urgent attention. I am of the view that his manager(s) and or the PR team can give more thought to what he does and says to help rework his image beyond the realm of football. I am one of his fans, and even when he hangs his boots and comes back to roost, I still want to be.
Once again, that shirt was just in bad taste and it is something else watching him in it.

The writer is a journalist (an activist writer) and a blogger and can be reached via [email protected] You can follow him on twitter with the handle @henkingklonobi

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