Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has paid tribute to his mother Aba Gyandoh for the crucial role she played in his early football career.

According to Essien, his mother encouraged him to join the national U-17 team when he was a schoolboy.

"When I was selected for the national Under 17 side, I was in school at the time and my mum said it's going to be a difficult one, do you really want to go?," Essien said in an interview with FIFA TV.

"I think my answer was no. My mum sat me down and said, my son, you should go".

Essien has been selected among the likes of World Cup winners Marcel Desailly of France and Brazil’s Gilberto Silva, two-time UEFA Champions League winner Michel Salgado of Spain, Argentina’s Esteban Cambiasso, Australian Tim Cahill and former South Korean star Park Ji-sung by FIFA as ambassadors to promote this year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

He represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship, before featuring at the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship.

The Ghanaian legend played 58 times for the Black Stars and scoring 9 goals in the process since making his debut for the team from 2002 to 2014.