Much like the rest of Africa, Ghana is obsessed with football. Most Ghanaians have memories of playing football in school or in their neighborhood with classmates and friends.
They may also have fond recollections of watching their favorite Ghanaian footballers on television or in person. Despite not having much success on the World Cup stage, Ghana does have several trophies in its cabinet.
Those who place soccer bets on the African Cup of Nations would often have Ghana as the favorites, as they have won the trophy four times and finished as runners-up on four occasions.
Between success on the international stage and achievements in club football, many Ghanaian footballers have changed the game for the better. Below is our assessment of the five best Ghanaian footballers of all time and how they made the sport even more popular around the world.
Legendary Ghana footballer Abedi Ayew was better known as Abedi Pele, named after his stylistic similarities to the late Brazilian footballing legend. Abedi went to Europe relatively early in his career, making his name in France with the likes of Marseille and Lille.
One of the reasons Abedi Pele is seen as a legend for Ghana is that he won the Champions League as a player. He also managed to win two Ligue 1 titles, along with receiving two nominations for the FIFA World Player of the Year award. His highest position in that award was ninth, making him one of the most impressive African footballers in that respect.
Another Ghanaian great, Michael Essien, showcased his quality in the Premier League and Champions League with Chelsea. Essien first signed for Lyon in France, earning a transfer to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. The rest is history, as Essien grabbed headlines with his outstanding midfield displays.
Aside from his ability to protect the back four and display energy for 90 minutes every week, Essien had a propensity for scoring outstanding goals. One of his long-range strikes against Arsenal in the Premier League is still seen as one of the great Premier League goals of all time.
Essien had a glittering career, which also saw him spend some time at Real Madrid. He won the Premier League four times, along with seven domestic cups. The crowning moment came in 2012 when Essien was part of Chelsea’s Champions League winning squad.
Samuel Kuffour became an absolute legend for Bayern Munich during his career. While defenders do not always get the most recognition compared to other players, Kuffour was an exception in that respect. He was universally admired for his quality, longevity, and the way he carried himself.
Kuffour enjoyed 12 years with Bayern Munich, playing 277 games and winning 14 major honors. By the time he left the German giants, he had won six Bundesliga titles, along with the Champions League trophy. He also had the honor of being named the Ghana Player of the Year in 1998, 1999, and 2001.
The only regret that Kuffour has from his career is that he was unable to win an international honor with Ghana, despite making 53 appearances for his nation. He eventually retired from the sport in 2010 after playing in Italy, the Netherlands, and then in his homeland.
The former striker Tony Yeboah reached the peak of his fame when playing for Leeds United in the English Premier League. Yeboah was a Player of the Year for Leeds during his second season with the club.
Aside from his hugely successful time in England, Yeboah was also very prolific when playing for Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg in the German Bundesliga. He was the two-time Bundesliga Golden Boot winner in 1993 and 1994.
Yeboah was once the Ghana Footballer of the Year, earning 59 caps for his nation and scoring 26 goals.
The best footballers are often ones with great egos, and Mohamed Ahmed Polo is no different. A brilliant dribbler and ingenious attacker, Polo once stated that during his peak, he was even better than Argentine superstar Lionel Messi.
While such feats may be debatable, Polo is no doubt one of the greatest footballers to put on the Ghana shirt in history. The ex-winger spent most of his years playing in his homeland for Heart of Oaks, a Ghana Premier League team. He even had a spell coaching the club after his retirement.
The only time Polo played outside of Ghana was a five-year spell that he spent with Al Wasl in Dubai in the early 1980s.