Meet the five Ghanaians who’ve tasted Uefa Champions League glory
By: KickerGh Staff
Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Teye Partey, should his team beat city rivals Real Madrid in Saturday’s Uefa Champions League final, would have the privilege of celebrating success in the biggest club competition on the planet. He wouldn’t be the first, though — only the sixth. Below, we profile the five he’s certainly raring to join.
Abedi Ayew contributed heavily to Olympique Marseille’s maiden and only Uefa Champions League triumph in 1993, having helped Les Phoceens to a losing finalists’ spot two years prior. A tense game against seven-time winners AC Milan in the final was ultimately settled by a 43rd-minute Basile Boli header expertly delivered from a sweet corner-kick from Ayew that successfully breached an otherwise unyielding Milan defence. A splendid man-of-the-match performance befitting the distinguished nickname he bears ensured that although Frenchman Boli’s goal secured the victory, ‘Pele’ was celebrated as the surpassing hero of that glorious night in Munich.
Borussia Dortmund had former Ghana international Ibrahim Tanko in their ranks when they conquered Europe in the 1996/97 final. Granted, Tanko played a severely limited part in the realisation of that triumph, but probably only due to a bout of injuries which plagued him throughout his career. The striker made just three appearances in Dortmund’s quest and failed to even earn a place in manager Ottmar Hitzfield’s squad for the decider. Still, Tanko received a winners’ medal for his troubles courtesy a 3-1 win for Die Schwarzgelben over Italy’s Juventus.
SAMUEL OSEI KUFFOUR
When Bayern Munich dramatically lost out to Manchester United in the final of the 1998/99 edition at the Camp Nou after conceding two late goals that rubbished an early lead, Samuel Osei Kuffour slapped the ground repeatedly in anguish. That occasion probably represented one of his illustrious career’s few nadirs, and he certainly was not going to pass up the opportunity to savour European conquest the next time it came within reach. That ‘next time’ arrived in 2001, and Kuffour indeed starred as the Bavarians held Valencia before pinning them via a shootout. Finally, a taste of glory for arguably Ghana’s most decorated footballer.
The combative midfielder won the Champions League as a member of Jose Mourinho’s well-drilled Inter Milan unit of 2009/10. Muntari was admittedly little more than a squad player but he was nonetheless a very valued one who failed to make the final 18-man matchday roster only twice throughout that victorious campaign. Muntari’s influence seemed to wane as the campaign went on, with his two starts coming in the first three group games. Nevertheless, he played a part in the climax, coming on to shore up the midfield after his team had taken the lead against Bayern and helped Inter hold on to win Europe’s most coveted trophy for the first time since 1965.
Sheer ecstasy and orgasmic scenes greeted Ivorian Didier Drogba’s coolly converted final penalty-kick in sudden-death which gave Chelsea — against Bayern — a first Uefa Champions League trophy in four years ago.
For Ghana’s Michael Essien, it was a first too, albeit belated, after years spent exerting himself for the prize. There’d been a few near-misses prior for the midfielder and his club, having come within, among others, a John Terry slip away from winning it in 2008 against Manchester United and a painful semi-final defeat to Barcelona the next year.
In 2012, however, a return from a niggling knee injury had seen ‘Le Bison’ fall down the pecking order in Di Matteo’s midfield and thus only played a peripheral role in winning the trophy. Still, his relative inactivity mattered little, as that success was the least his brilliant career deserved.