TOP FIVE: GHANA INTERNATIONALS WHO EXILED THEMSELVES

By: Sammie Frimpong
Adam Kwarasey must be brimming with boundless joy as he
returns for the Black Stars against Mozambique today, but there are
quite a few of his international peers who know that feeling only too
well

Considering just how much pride and ecstasy footballers derive from
representing their national teams, it’s quite surprising that
footballers prematurely rendering themselves unavailable for selection
is a somewhat fashionable habit in the international sphere.

Ghana has had more than its own fair share of such cases over the
years, with goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey the latest to return from such a
sabbatical, being named in Black Stars’ head coach Avram Grant’s bunch
of invitees for this week’s Afcon 2017 qualifying double-header with
Mozambique.
But, of course, the 28-year-old isn’t the first. Here are five who
left and returned.

ASAMOAH GYAN

image
Asamoah Gyan

Another missed spotkick that ultimately proved detrimental to Ghana’s
chances at a major tournament, this time versus Zambia in the 2012
Nations Cup’s semi-finals, was always going to break Gyan. If the
experience against Uruguay at the Fifa World Cup two years prior
seemingly made him stronger, the former Udinese man didn’t rouse
himself as easily from these fresh depths. And so it was that, not
very long after the Stars’ disappointing fourth-place finish at said
competition, he declared an indefinite break from international
action, one he called off just six months later and got ‘rewarded’
with the captaincy.

MICHAEL ESSIEN

image
Michael Essien

The moment Michael Essien, in Ghana’s opening Afcon 2010 game, had his
left knee give after damaging impact from Ivorian Didier Drogba, it
was obvious he wouldn’t be returning to the beautiful game for a long
while. What wasn’t obvious then, however, was that an even lengthier
period would pass before ‘Le Bison’ wore a Ghana shirt again.

“I think I will be taking a break,” Essien said in August 2010, though
explaining that he was “not retiring, just not playing all the time.”

The idea, it seemed, was to focus on his club career which, as Essien
may have been right to believe, had suffered as a result of his
exertions for Ghana. Given that he never quite recovered from that
point, though, it was only sensible that he reneged on that decision
late in 2013, just in time for a slot in Kwesi Appiah’s squad for the
following year’s World Cup.

ANDRE AYEW

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Andre Ayew

If there ever was any doubt that former Ghana coach Appiah had the
balls to make tough decisions, his omission of Ayew brothers Andre and
Jordan from his roster for the 2013 Afcon — for varying reasons, of
course — was quite some evidence. It did come at a price, though, as
the siblings, sons of Ghana legend Abedi Ayew [with whom many claim
Appiah has a long-running feud which dates back to when the two played
together for the Stars in the nineties], reacted with a joint decision
to retire. It took some effort; even intervention from Ghana’s current
President, to prompt a rescinding of that call.

JORDAN AYEW

image
Jordan Ayew

See above.

KEVIN-PRINCE BOATENG

image
Kevin-Prince Boateng

For a man who celebrates his birthday on the same date Ghana turns a
year older, you’d think Ghanaians are justified in expecting a little
more patriotism from Germany-born Kevin-Prince Boateng. Boateng fed us
so much joy when he switched allegiance to his dad’s homeland ahead of
South Africa 2010, thrilling the populace even more with some solid
displays at the tournament. The aftertaste, however, wasn’t so
pleasant, with Boateng formally resigning from international duty only
four months after the World Cup. He’d return just about the same time
Essien did in the build-up to the next Mundial — a decision that,
given all that happened in faraway Brazil which resulted in Boateng
being exiled (this time not of his own will), probably shouldn’t have been made and which didn’t exactly please his countrymen

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