Asamoah Gyan has had many iconic moments in his career. For what it’s worth, he’s one of those who could easily play hero and villain alike in a Netflix classic.
The 34-year-old is Ghana’s all-time top scorer with 51 goals. He is also Africa’s record scorer at the World Cup with six strikes.
To his credit, Gyan holds numerous other records that many can only dream of, but he’s also a man who personifies the Black Stars’ recent status as nearly-men, and his costly penalty miss against Uruguay during the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup readily comes to mind.
“I felt sad and it is a normal thing. I wanted to go there and score for my nation for the whole of Africa and I couldn’t bury the ball at that time,” Gyan said of the moment in an exclusive interview with Pulse.com.gh. “I felt like I let everybody down, but I had to comfort myself and said it was one of those things.”
“Although people were hurt sometimes, I do ask myself questions what about me on the field. What about me who missed the penalty, how do I feel? I feel like people don’t think about what the player is going through on the field of play, but they are thinking about themselves, but at the end of the day, it is part of the game. It happens, there are a lot of great players who miss penalties.”
The location was the Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, as Africa finally got a nod to host the most prestigious international football tournament.
Having made it out of a group containing Australia, Germany and Serbia, Ghana set up a quarter-final clash against Uruguay after eliminating the USA in the round of 16.
Sulley Muntari’s long-range opener was classic, Diego Forlan’s equaliser from a free-kick was even more exquisite. With the two sides deadlocked at one apiece, the game stretched into extra-time.
The Ghana vs Uruguay game was one of the most thrilling at the World Cup in South Africa. For a game which served fans their money’s worth, drama was the only missing as the match approached penalties.
But as the gods of football would have it, that dramatic finale came when Luis Suarez kept out Dominic Adiyiah’s goal-bound header… with his hands.
Penalty to Ghana. All of Africa rejoiced. However, what followed remains one of the most heartbreaking moments in World Cup history.
Gyan, who was on three goals – two of which came from the spot – hit his strike against the crossbar. It was the last kick of the game and it was a miss. Uruguay would go on to win 4-2 in the ensuing penalty shootout.
Rather cheekily, Suarez later described his “unprincipled” intervention, which got him sent off, as the “greatest save of the tournament.”
Earlier this year when Gyan spoke to TV3, he admitted that the memory of that miss still haunts him. In truth, he still hurts every African.
At 34, the former Sunderland forward is nearing retirement but the striker says he so much craves for a second chance to redeem himself.
“Till today, any time alone, it still haunts me. Sometimes I feel like the world should go back again so I can redeem myself, but I know this is something that will haunt me for the rest of my life,” he concedes.
“I accept that because there is nothing I can do about it. I went there to save my country, but I ended up being the villain, which I accept because I know how people feel.
“All I was telling myself was to get another chance because I knew I could redeem myself even if not football, something else. But even if I don't, my kids will do it one day.”
In March when the Pulse Sports team met Gyan for an interview at the Army Officers Mess Tennis Courts in Accra, he tried to portray a man who has moved on.
His words, however, gave him up. The good thing, though, is that the striker feels positive and, after years of staying away from penalty-taking duties, he wouldn’t mind assuming the role again when the opportunity presents itself.
“I’ve been advised. My team has advised me and I’ve spoken to a lot of people. To be a man, you need to go through a lot of things,” Gyan said. “I’m a striker and I need to score goals. Sometimes, things can get very tough for you and you need a penalty to redeem yourself or to build your confidence.
“Penalties are part of the game. I’ve been advised and anytime I’m given the opportunity, why not?”