According to him, the midfielder deserved the award after the successful season he enjoyed at both club and international level.

Essien was one of Jose Mourinho’s most trusted lieutenants when the Portuguese steered Chelsea to the Premier League title in the 2005-06 season.

The Ghanaian was also instrumental as the Blues lifted the coveted FA Cup the following season.

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Michael Essien and Derek Boateng for the Black Stars
Michael Essien and Derek Boateng for the Black Stars

For Ghana, Essien helped the Black Stars to their first ever World Cup qualification in 2006 and went on to star at the tournament in Germany.

However, the midfielder was beaten to the 2007 African Footballer of the Year gong by Mali’s Frederic Kanoute.

Essien placed second after the striker, with his Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba coming in third place.

Boteng, however, believes his compatriot was Africa’s best player that year.

“He [Essien] should have won the African best player award, I think in 2006-2007 during his time under [Jose] Mourinho at Chelsea,” Boateng told Goal.

“That time when he came second, we all thought he was going to win and we all felt bad he didn’t win it. He deserved it.

“I don’t think he cares so much about it now. He’s always a happy person and thinking positive.”

Boateng and Essien rose through the ranks together, with both featuring at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup, as well as going on to star for Ghana’s national team.