Monday, May 3, 2010


Michael Essien (born December 3, 1982 in Accra, Ghana) is a Ghanaian football player. He currently plays for Chelsea F.C. in England. He is an all-action box-to-box central midfielder and plays as a deep-lying playmaker for Ghana.

In Ghana, soccer is almost a religion and it was here that Michael Essien was born. He started playing soccer on the streets of Accra, his home town and rose up the ranks to now play in one of soccer's most prestigious stadiums, Chelsea's stamford Bridge.

He began his career in a local club in his native Ghana, called Liberty Professionals. He broke through when he played in the Under-17 World Cup in 1999 in New Zealand. This led to considerable attention from European scouts.

In July 1999, Bastia, a club from Corsica in France, signed Essien. At Bastia, he was not very regular, playing at right back, left back and central defense. Then because of an injury to one of his teammates, he was given a temporary opportunity to play in central midfield. Essien played very well in this role. In 2001, even though he was one of the youngest players in the tournament, he took part in the World Youth Championship in Argentina, and performed exceptionally well. He made his Ghana senior debut in the 2002 African Nations Cup.

Soon he was compared to Frenchman Patrick Vieira because of his ability to go from box to box. In 2002/2003 season he brought Bastia into the UEFA Cup. He scored 6 goals that season. He became physically stronger and a harder tackler. Soon Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille made offers for him. He was not only popular in France, but also in England. Both major Merseyside teams, Liverpool and Everton, made offers for him.

PSG made the best offer and Bastia accepted it, but Essien rejected it, and moved to Lyon. At Lyon, Essien played more defensive midfield, featuring regularly in the Lyon team that won the third and fourth of their current string of five consecutive Ligue 1 titles.

In August 2005, Essien declared that he would “go on strike” against Lyon because of the club’s refusal to transfer him to English Premiership champions Chelsea. It was announced on 14 August that Lyon and Chelsea had agreed a £26m fee for the Ghanaian, finally ending one of the longest running transfer sagas in recent English football history. Essien is now Chelsea’s second most expensive signing after the club signed Ukraine forward and captain Andriy Shevchenko from A.C. Milan on 22 May 2006.

The transfer went through on 19 August, purportedly for a slightly reduced fee of £24.4m, nevertheless breaking Chelsea’s previous record transfer fee, which they achieved the previous season by paying £24m for Olympique Marseille’s Didier Drogba. He made his debut against Arsenal on August 21, wearing the number 5 on his shirt. He has already seemingly cemented his place in José Mourinho’s side, starting the majority of the league games since his debut. He got an assist in his full debut against West Bromwich Albion, and he replaced the injured Claude Makelele in the defensive midfield role against Sunderland in the 2-0 win on September 10, 2005. The midfield of Chelsea looks to have been strengthened by the powerful, athletic Essien, who could well form the Chelsea midfield with Frank Lampard for the next five or more years.
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