Top 5 Ghanaian footballers who could have won the Ballon d'Or
Which Ghanaian players could have laid hands on football's most prestigious individual award? Pulse Sports give you a list.
The award was merged with FIFA's World Player of the Year from 2010 to 2015.
Originally, the award was only open to European players, but this rule evolved over the years. In 1995, it was amended to include players of all nationalities who play in Europe, and in 2007, it was finally open to players of all nationalities regardless of where they play.
Pulse Sports has a look at a list of Europe-based Ghanaian players who could have won the award in the prime.
5. Tony Yeboah
At the height of his powers, Tony Yeboah, nicknamed Yegoala, was one of the most feared strikers in Europe. His stints at Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg SV saw him score goals at will, gaining popularity and admiration. Yeboah was twice the top scorer in the German Bundesliga (1993 and 1994), a rare achievement for a black man.
He was second in the African Player of the Year award in 1993, placing ninth on FIFA's World Player of the Year list in the same year. He was also player of the Year at Leeds United in 1996.
4. C.K Gyamfi
Many people know C.K Gyamfi as the legendary coach who led Ghana to three of its four Africa Cup of Nations titles, but many are oblivious of the fact that he was an exceptional player during his hey days. In 1960, he became the first African to sign a professional contract in Germany when he was unveiled by Fortuna Dusseldorf. He became a club idol at the German clubs, with his skills and goals earning him the nickname 'Tunda Vita' (Thunder Weather)
Before Europe, C.K played for both Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak - Ghana's two biggest clubs, and excelled, earning an iconic status across both institutions - a rare achievement. He also captained the Black Stars from 1958 to 1960, winning the 1959 Jalco Cup and the West Africa Gold Cup. He was a member of the Gold Coast national team that toured the United Kingdom in 1951, was named the Gold Coast's first Sportsman of the Year in 1953, and was hailed by the Daily Graphic, Ghana's biggest newspaper, as "Ghana's greatest footballer" in 1960.
3. Samuel Osei Kuffour
Sammy Kuffour spent 12 years at Bayern Munich, where he became a high profile defender and a cult hero. He won six Bundesliga titles and four DFB Pokals, capping it with a UEFA Champions League and Intercontinental Cup in 2001. That same year, he was named BBC African Footballer of the Year.
While Kuffuor didn't win any major honours with Ghana's senior team, he was an U-17 World Cup winner in 1991, an Olympic Bronze medallist in 1992, as well as a silvermedallist in both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups in 1993.
2. Michael Essien
The midfield dynamo had an impressive career in Europe, starting out at Bastia and then Lyon, where he was integral as the club won back to back titles (He was the Ligue 1 Player of the Year in his last season). His £24.4 million transfer to Chelsea made him the most expensive African footballer ever. At Chelsea, Essien won it all - the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League, even winning the BBC African Footballer of the Year award in 2006.
For his country, Essien was a key player in qualifying Ghana's national team, the Black Stars, for its first FIFA World Cup in 2006. Essien was also a lynchpin of the Black Satellites (Ghana U-20) side that won silver medals at the 2001 World Youth Championship.
1. Abedi Pele
Perhaps no Ghanaian player reached higher heights in Europe than Abedi 'Pele' Ayew. Indeed, his influence stretched further: Pele was one of the first African footballers to reach the highermost echelons of recognition in Europe.
His five years spent at Marseille (1997 to 1993) saw him become one of Europe's biggest footballers.
He won three league titles and reached the final of the European Cup (UEFA Champions League) twice, losing in 1991 and winning in 1993 During this time, Abedi won the Africa Player of the Year award three consecutive times from 1991 to 1993, the BBC version in 1991, and the Golden Ball at the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations, where he captained Ghana to second place.
Ten years earlier, as an 18-year-old, he had been a part of the Ghana team that had won the Africa Cup of Nations in Libya. The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) named him third on its list of Africa's greatest players of the 20th century.
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