Saturday, January 18, 2014

WEEKEND CELEB: The Hard Tackler, Michael Essien


African footballers are celebrated every now and then; in Africa, across Europe and in the world at large. Their contributions to the round leather game have been considered a “Special Addition” by football analysts due to their physical introduction to the game.
Michael Essien is one of the most sought after players in the football world due to his physique, strength and ability to score long range goals.
Born in Accra to Ghanaian parents Aba Gyandoh and James Essien, Michael began his career in a local club in his native Ghana, called Liberty Professionals FC after graduating from St Augustine College. His breakthrough came when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. This led to considerable attention from European scouts.
Micheal signed for Bastia in the summer of 2000 after he had trials at Manchester United. While he was at Bastia he didn’t command a regular place in the team, playing at right back, left back and in central defense.  
Essien flourished in this new role and was soon compared to Frenchman Patrick Viera because of his ability to go from box to box. In 2002/2003 season, he helped Bastia qualify for the UEFA Cup. He scored six goals that season. He became physically stronger and a harder tackler.
He signed for Lyon where he played a more defensive role featuring regularly in the Lyon team that won the third and fourth of their current string of six consecutive Ligue 1 titles. He was also voted the 2005 Player of the Year by France's National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP).
Michael caught the eye of Chelsea’s manager who was out to strengthen his new squad as he was signed for a fee of £24.4m. He soon cemented his place in José Mourinho's side, starting the majority of the league games.
In 2006, Michael won the BBC African footballer of the Year award. It was in 2007 he was nominated for the prestigious FIFA World Player of the Year Award, the Ballon d'Or Award and the African Footballer of the Year.
On 15 May 2007, Michael was voted Chelsea’s Player of the Year by the fans, becoming the first African to receive the honour. His goal against Arsenal was also voted as Chelsea’s Goal of the Season.

In the summer of 2012, Michael joined Real Madrid on loan for one season and returned back to Chelsea to complete the remainder of his contract.
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