Asamoah Gyan's Black Stars tantrums; an unnecessary blemish to a lustrous football career

Asamoah Gyan's tantrums reek bad leadership skills and unwanted drama in a Black Stars team whose strongest attribute going into AFCON 2019 could be team morale as quality is deficient.

Asamoah Gyan's Black Stars tantrums; an unnecessary blemish to a lustrous football career

ACCRA, GHANA: On May 20, 2019, Africa’s top scoring goal scorer at a FIFA World Cup dropped a bombshell. 

Having been a subject of debate concerning his inclusion to the national team of Ghana due to his age and fitness level, captain of the Black Stars announced his decision to recuse himself from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, taking that same opportunity to retire from the national team.

Asamoah Gyan has chalked many feats for Ghana and his retirement was anticipated to be one that would go down as a remarkable reflection on what he had done for football in Africa while being soaked in sad thoughts of never seeing Ghana’s all-time top scorer play competitive football again.

The reality was different.

In the eye of local and international media who have watched Gyan play over the years, the former Sunderland and Al Ain player released a statement that screamed childishly sulky and ill-timed.

Gyan started his statement with a quote from his late mother about decisions and betrayals which he claims he still does not understand. Then, in a very unprofessional manner of a man who had led the senior national team for so many years, he wrote: ‘I cannot pretend to be happy.’

What followed was a trivial outline of self-praise on how he had made a host of appearances for Ghana in major tournaments, how he basically campaigned for coach James Kwesi Appiah’s appointment and backed him during difficult times going to the extent of airing the team’s dirty financial laundry in public with how he had to support in a personal capacity.

Baby Jet, as he is popularly known went on to draw favour to his side of the story pining in old teammates Steven Appiah and Richard Kingston. Then there was a shade on how a coach picks his team with ‘game minutes and goals’ and how he would not pretend his presence would not fuel the purported undermining the country has seen under his captaincy.

In his thanksgiving note at the end of the release, the Black Stars captain thanks all of Ghana’s presidents under the 4th Republic, his coaches and his teammates from 2003.

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch the good times and bad times of the Black Stars since Ghana qualified for her first FIFA World Cup tournament in 2006, you would definitely know Asamoah Gyan’s retirement was that like a crying baby who creates a scene in the midst of visitors to get what he/she wants from a parent who hates the embarrassment.  

Just that this time, it was not a parent avoiding a child’s embarrassment. It was a government wanting a somehow cheap future publicity and Asamoah Gyan knew how to get his way.

In 2013, the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan rescinded their decision to retire from the senior national team of Ghana, the Black Stars after a ‘crisis’ meeting with former president John Dramani Mahama.

Andre Ayew had been axed from the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations squad after failing to report on time. This was triggered by his brother Jordan handing in his resignation from the Black Stars after asking for a guaranteed first-team place when he was excluded from the squad.

With such history of a presidential intervention, Asamoah Gyan probably had it all planned out when he started mentioning names of presidents in the thanksgiving section of his retirement letter to Ghanaians. 

Recounting the number of times which president did what for Ghana football during his tenure, key members of the senior national team know how important it is to end Ghana’s drought for the presidency irrespective of the ruling party. It may sound an overly sensationalized predictions but Ghanaians can bet on all odds that one political party will shade the other in the future when Ghana finally wins the AFCON tournament.

Such political influence in our football means people can be manipulated and Asamoah Gyan knew it. The sad part is, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo fell for the trap.

In a quick-fire return and rescinding of decision, Asamaoah Gyan ate the words of his retirement notice spewing new words all because of Ghana’s president, he says. Of course, it was going to be that, the president!

'A presidential request is one that cannot be disregarded,' Gyan begins this time in contrast to the previous opening line that has still not been understood.

A sense of gloat is felt in the next line where he narrates having the opportunity to speak with the father of the nation.

The hilariously baffling side of the story is that conditions concerning Gyan’s inclusion in the Black Stars for AFCON 2019 still remain the same as it stands.

So, what did the president say that the Black Stars coach Kwesi Appiah, the technical members and management team couldn’t have sat down to handle in a more mature manner? It was a matter of testing the waters to see who would come in as the lifeguard considering his contribution to Ghana football. The Black Stars captaincy issue has been around for a while but if there was an opportunity to create a great drama ahead of Ghana’s preparation for a major tournament he previously announced was his last then why not? And he actually executed to perfection.

Asamoah Gyan has made tremendous contributions to Ghana football and on his path to glory has inked his name as one of the best strikers there are on the African continent and world stage in general. There have been points where global trends have debated on Asamoah Gyan on record numbers with arguably one of the top two players in current football, Cristiano Ronaldo.

On his road to becoming Ghana’s all-time top scorer, the former Udinese and Rennes player showed the peak of international football whom he was, writing his name as Africa’s top goal scorer at a FIFA World Cup tournament.

Football on the pitch, Asamoah Gyan is a legend.

However, the case has not been so with leadership and being in the spotlight as a leader. Granted people have their personal lives, but football history has shown private lives are not entirely private and can affect football decision with the John Terry-Wayne Bridge situation as a key example.

Gyan’s consistent scuffles with Andre Ayew on the Black Stars captaincy issues, the Sarah Kwablah rape allegations and the assault of a journalist involving Shanghai SIPG’s former striker and his brother were all situations that lacked better judgement from a man who was the leader of Ghana’s national team.

With the experience Gyan has in football, it should be part of a natural instinct to know the damning effect of creating tantrums ahead of a major tournament where Ghana’s only hope to have a good run may be on team morale with quality lacking in all departments.

The timing and the way Asamoah Gyan went about his retirement ‘scare’ was unnecessarily selfish, to say the least. The player whose feats are arguably unrivalled in Ghana football cloaks the shining records with a misjudged announcement and a pettish letter.

Ghana will go into the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt wondering what if. Irrespective of how hard the players will try, the tension between what has transpired between Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan will linger in the minds of players and all team members.

For Ghana, it is an unwanted pre-tournament drama considering how bad things could go in the team with reference to Brazil. For coach Kwesi Appiah, decisions will be tougher as pressure has already been put on him with a lot of interventions. For the players, ‘whose side are you on?’ could be a perplexing question. And for Asamoah Gyan, the president might have come to Ghana’s aid in making him rescind his decision but world football saw an unnecessarily disgruntled champion who stained his leadership aspect of football again when he should have known better.