Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan says former Ghana international Michael Essien is the greatest player he has ever played with.
Gyan described Essien as a “great midfielder”, adding: “At that time he was my best midfielder in the world. I think Ghana forgets so soon. We all know it, I cannot say anything again, I think he is the best player I have ever played with. He is a strong guy, he dictates the midfield, he doesn’t lose too many balls, he does what he has to do and he runs.”
Nicknamed The Bison for his physique and tough tackling, Essien started his career playing for Liberty Professionals. In 2000, he joined Bastia in France where he spent three seasons, appearing in over 60 matches before joining league champions Olympique Lyonnais in 2003.
At Lyon, Essien won back-to-back league titles in 2003–04 and 2004–05 and also played in the UEFA Champions League. He spent five years in France and joined Chelsea in 2005 for a fee of £24.4 million – the most expensive for an African footballer at the time.
Essien helped Chelsea win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup. He won the Chelsea Goal of the Season award twice, in the 2006–07 and 2008–09 seasons.
Essien has since played for Spanish and Italian giants Real Madrid and AC Milan respectively. He also played for Panathinaikos in Greece and currently plays for Indonesian club Persib Bandung.
At international level, Essien played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship for Ghana. He played for the senior team from 2002-2014 and has over 50 caps to his credit.
He played in the 2006 and 2014 World Cups alongside Gyan and many Cup of Nations together. Gyan disclosed Essien was the greatest footballer he had played with in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM on Wednesday, 14 June, 2017.