If you are a real football or soccer fanatic, then you cannot miss to know Abedi Pele. This Ghanaian legendary footballer was born Abedi Ayew on 5 November 1964. Because of his prowess in soccer, his countrymen named him “Pele” in comparison with the Brazilian footballer named Brazil’s Edson Arantes do Nascimento, also known as Pele. He is among the most renowned Ghanaian Internationals and his talents can still be felt in Ghana as it has trickled down through his three sons: Ibrahim, Andre and Jordan.
Abedi Pele did not even know of his great footballing skills. His fans started comparing him with the Brazilian legend before he even realized his own capabilities. The question is what made this wonderful soccer player a legend. There is a forest of reasons depending on how you see it.
1. Pioneer of African Football in Europe
Playing in the European leagues and championships is the dream of every African footballer. Even after getting a chance, showing that you are worth the position is another challenge that you must overcome. Abedi Pele was among the pioneers of African football in Europe having played for number of great European club such as Marseille and Lyon among many others. To be exact he played for teams in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and most popularly France. During his time in Europe, he scored so many spectacular goals that are hard to come by even now.
2. Abedi Pele was a Multiple European Cup Winner
The name Abedi Pele is synonymous with cup winning. When playing in Europe, Ayew helped his European clubs bag a number of cups, trophies, as well as titles. He helped lead the French Ligue 1 side, Olympique de Marseilles to its first ever European championship in 1993 after scoring winning goals. Just to appreciate his prowess in cup winning, Abedi Pele was accorded the award of “Man of the Match” in Marseille’s relic UEFA Champions League final win over Milan in 1993. There are many instances when he was the one to score the deciding goal.
3. Personal Awards
Pele received many coveted awards — awards which every footballer hopes to receive at one point or the other in their footballing career. He was among the first African football players to earn a high placing in World Player of the Year for FIFA that was voted in 1991 and in 1992. He is perhaps the continent’s most honored and decorated soccer player ever, bagging the African Player of the Year Award 3 times by the French Football Magazine.
Besides, he was the first winner of the BBC African Sports Star of the Year in 1992, and as well as the corresponding CAF award two times. In addition, Abedi Pele was awarded the golden ball award for being the most prominent player at the 1992 African Nations Cup , and was the “Man of the Match” in Marseille’s historic UEFA Champions League final win against Milan in 1993 as previously mentioned.
4. All-Time African Football Champion
Although Ayew is a Ghanaian, he brought nothing but pride to African football. For his home country, this football legend was the captain for Ghana for six years (between 1992 and 1998). He appeared for his country 73 times was the scorer of the most number of international goals for Ghana with 33 goals to his name until he was surpassed by Asamoah Gyan, who is continuing to write history.
5. A Formidable Midfielder
All his footballing life, Abedi Ayew was a formidable midfielder. As you know, the midfield is the secret to great football. He played his position so well that the entire team played cooperatively and therefore produced the best results. He is renowned for his nimble athleticism and dazzling footwork . So far, not even the most celebrated players of African origin have managed to match his extraordinary footwork. He was most difficult to tackle and would always leave his tacklers open mouthed.
6. Football Ambassador and Philanthropist
In June of 200,1 Ayew was nominated by the reigning Ghanaian government to serve as the next Chairman of the FA. He later gave up this wonderful opportunity for the much more experienced former coach of Ghana. In his own words, Ayew said that this was to be an opportunity for him to educate himself even more from his superiors. He is currently in charge of second division club, Nania F.C.
7. He is a Proven Player
If you take a look at his profile and career history, you might learn that Pele played for Olympique De Marseille for just a year before joining rival club, Lille, only to return later to Marseille after two years. When he moved to Lille, his extraordinary performances in his new team made Marseille’s club president realize what he had lost and tried to sign him back again. He was initially reluctant but his supportive wife convinced him to go and prove himself. And he did just that.
8. Unquenchable Love For Football
A footballer cannot be considered legendary if his love for the game is so satiable that it ends with his career on the pitch. One of the top 10 things that made Abedi Pele a legendary footballer is his unquenchable love for football. Today, the legend spends his time and resources mentoring and coaching young players. Apart from the fundamentals of sports, Ayew tries to prepare young talents to face some of the challenges he overcame as a young player.
9. His Talent Continues in his Offspring
Whether they have followed in the footsteps of the father or the sport runs through their genetic makeup is irrelevant. One thing for sure is that legends always sire legends and Ayew’s three sons: Andre, Jordan and Ibrahim have proved this fact. These three have successfully stamped their authority in African football and have represented Ghana in major international tournaments including African Nations Cup and even the FIFA World Cup.
10. Record Holder For Most Appearances
Abedi Pele holds the prestigious record for most appearances in the Continent’s Nations Cup Finals, with a record even surpassing the appearances of legendary Roger Milla of Cameroon. Ayew made his maiden appearance at the 13th Nations Cup Finals that were hosted in Libya in 1982 and for the next 16 years continued to grace this much respected African football tournament on the continent, initially as one of the members Ghanaian squad cruising to become the captain in 1991.