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Michael Essien is one of the greatest African players of all-time, but underrated: Derek Boateng

Derek Boateng has showered praises on his former Liberty Professionals and Black Stars teammates Michael Essien

Essien and Derek Boateng

Boateng explained that Michael is one of the greatest players to have graced African football, but he is underrated by a lot of people.

“When people talk about Essien, I think they don’t really know him well,” former Fulham midfielder Boateng, who featured alongside Essien at the 2006 World Cup following their days with Ghana’s U17 and 20 sides, told Goal on Sunday.

“I played with him at the Ghana U17s and we moved to the U20s together, we stayed in the same house in Dansoman, so I know this guy in and out. When I hear people say things not appreciating him, I know they are wrong – they don’t know him.

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“Sulley Muntari for example, people judge him a lot that he is this or that, but no, they don’t know him. Essien has done so much and everything he achieved in his career is deserving because he’s worked so hard for it.

“No matter what people say about him, he’s a winner and a champion – you can never take that away from him.”

Essien won Ligue 1 twice during his time with French giants Lyon.

After moving to Chelsea in 2005, he helped the Blues win the league in 2005-06 and 2009-10, lifted the FA Cup four times, the League Cup once, the Community Shield once and the Uefa Champions League in 2011-12.

“I would rate him among the greatest African players of all-time. When I’m putting down my [African] XI, Essien will be in the squad. He’s a great player. He’s done so much for Ghana, himself at the club side and he’s a good man. I’m happy for him. I respect him and we stay friends,” Boateng remarked.

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Despite a glittering career, especially at club level, Essien remains among the list of illustrious men never to have won the African Footballer of the Year award.

The former Real Madrid and Chelsea man placed third in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009 and second in 2007.

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

“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 o much about it now. He’s always a happy person and thinking positive.”

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Michael Essien was a member of the Black Stars team that qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2006 and also played in the 2014 FIFA World Cup several Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

He also won French Ligue 1 titles with Lyon and Premier League titles and UEFA Champions League title with Chelsea.

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