Michael Essien (born December 3, 1982 in Accra) is a Ghanaian
footballer. He currently plays for Chelsea in the English Premier League. He is
an all-action box-to-box central midfielder and plays as a deep-lying playmaker
Born in Accra, Essien 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
In July 1999, French club SC Bastia signed Essien. At Bastia, he did not
command a regular place in the team, playing at right back, left back and in
central defense. Then because of an injury to one of his teammates, he was given
a temporary opportunity to play in central midfield. Essien flourished in this
new 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
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 six goals that season. He became physically stronger and a harder
tackler. Soon Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille
made offers for him. He was not only popular in France, but also in England.
Both major Merseyside teams, Liverpool F.C. and Everton F.C., made offers for
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 Ł26m
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.
Michael Essien <<Video
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The transfer went through on 19 August, purportedly for a slightly reduced
fee of Ł24.4m, nevertheless breaking Chelsea's previous record transfer fee,
which they achieved the previous season by paying Ł24m for Olympique Marseille's
Didier Drogba. He made his debut against Arsenal F.C. on August 21, wearing the
number 5 on his shirt. He soon cemented his place in José Mourinho's side,
starting the majority of the league games since his debut. He made an assist in
his full debut against West Bromwich Albion F.C., and he replaced the injured
Claude Makélélé in the defensive midfield role against Sunderland A.F.C. in the
2-0 win on September 10, 2005. The Chelsea midfield looks to have been
strengthened by the powerful, athletic Essien, who could well form part of the
Chelsea midfield with Frank Lampard for years to come.
|Date of birth
December 3, 1982
|Place of birth
||1.81 m (6.0)
Central/Right midfielder, Right-back
Sporting Club de Bastia
* Professional club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only and
correct as of 18:32, 29 December 2006 (UTC).
** National team caps and goals correct
as of December 20, 2006.
On 15 December, he was handed a 2-match ban by UEFA for a controversial
tackle on Dietmar Hamann, which resulted in his suspension from Chelsea's UEFA
Champions League second round tie with eventual European champions F.C.
Barcelona. Chelsea lost the two-legged tie, 3-2 on aggregate. Essien apologised
to Hamann for the challenge (Hamann publicly accepted the apology) and insists
that while he desires to be perceived as a player who 'unsettles' opponents, he
is not a malicious or unsporting player. In January 2006, Essien was himself
stretchered off the field, the victim of a poor (and unpunished) challenge from
West Ham United captain Nigel Reo-Coker, which sidelined him for three weeks.
Essien scored his first goal for Chelsea in March 2006, in a 2-1 victory over
Tottenham Hotspur. His second goal came on 17 April 2006 against Everton. Essien
ended his debut season in England with 2 goals for Chelsea, both in the Premier
League. However, the arrival of midfielders Michael Ballack from Bayern Munich
and John Obi Mikel from F.C. Lyn Oslo in May 2006 meant that Essien faced fierce
competition to be selected for Chelsea.
On 16 May, 2006, Essien was selected to be part of the team that represented
Ghana at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He played in midfield with team captain
Stephen Appiah of Fenerbahçe and Sulley Ali Muntari of Udinese. Essien played in
Ghana's 0-2 defeat to Italy, their 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic, and the
2-1 victory over the United States, and helped Ghana become the only African
team to reach the second round of the 2006 World Cup. However, Essien was
suspended for Ghana's second round match against Brazil and could only watch as
Ghana lost 0-3.
Upon the team's return to Ghana, Essien said that the team had gained
invaluable experience and will be aiming to make the next finals, which will be
held in Africa for the first time in the tournament's history at South Africa
On September 12, Essien scored his first UEFA Champions League goal for
Chelsea in a 2-0 victory over Werder Bremen of Germany. To date he has a total
of 6 goals in competitive games for Chelsea, including a powerful, curling
equalizer against Arsenal on December 10, 2006 from approximately 35 yards from
goal. The spectacular strike sent the home crowd into uproar. The match ended in
a 1-1 draw, with Essien receiving the Man of the Match.
A "world class" midfielder, Essien was nominated for the 2006 FIFA World
Player of the Year Award on October 12, 2006. One week later, he was nominated
for the 2006 Ballon d'Or. He was also nominated for the 2005 FIFA World Player
of the Year Award. He placed 22nd in 2005. He is currently one of five finalists
for African Footballer of the Year..
- French Cup with SC Bastia Runner-up: 2002
- French Ligue 1 with Olympique Lyon Winner: 2003/04, 2004/05
FA Premier League with Chelsea F.C Winner: 2006
- National team
1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship 3rd Place: 1999
FIFA World Youth Championship Runner-up: 2001
FIFA World Player of the Year - 22nd 2005, 2006 Nomination
- Ballon d'Or - 22nd 2005, 2006 Nomination
African Footballer of the Year - 3rd 2005
CAF's Africa Top 50 Best Players of All-Time - Nomination
- 2005 France Player of the Year - Winner
- FIFA Player of the Game: 2006 Fifa World Cup Ghana vs. Czech Republic
- The Most Expensive Summer Transfer of 2005 [from Lyon to Chelsea]
- The Most Expensive African Footballer of all-time [€38M]
- FIFA All-Star Midfielder
On the Cover of FIFA Magazine May 2006
- "The first things that people see about Michael is his energy and tackling,
and they classify him as a holding midfielder, a destroyer type of player. What
they don't often realise is that he can also be very dangerous going forward.
His positioning to receive the ball is very good, and he knows when and where to
place a pass." - Former Olympique Lyon and current Glasgow Rangers manager Paul
Le Guen on his former player.
- "Essien is a great player. He can play every position in midfield. Where he
is perfect in choices. In football, the most difficult thing is to choose well,
and in every situation he chooses well. He presses, stays in position, passes
long, passes short, first touch, two touches. He controls the pace of the game,
fast or slow. He is midfield multifunctional, he is dynamic and strong. The boy
has incredible physical power, he is super resistant with great speed and
unending tactical abilities." - Chelsea F.C Coach José Mourinho on his
midfielder in May 2006 FIFA Magazine
- FIFA.com says "Essien, Lyon's quietly rampaging buffalo"
- The Guardian says "Essien: The very model of a modern midfield general"
- Interview in FIFA Magazine, May 2006(pdf)
Le retour du Bison, that's all I have to say about this
quality, world class player.
essien is best among the best. I like is style of play.
I love Michael Essien System of play, and like my club the
Essien is one of the best players in Africa and one of the
best players in England