Asamoah Gyan: Ghana’s record goalscorer retires from football

Asamoah Gyan with number three shaved into side of his head
Asamoah Gyan shaved the number three into his hair as a tribute to the shirt number he wore for Ghana

Ghana’s record goalscorer Asamoah Gyan has announced his retirement from football.

The 37-year-old fought back tears as he revealed his decision while on stage with former Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba in the Ghanaian capital, Accra.

Gyan later took to social media to explain why he was calling time on his 20-year career.

“It is time,” he wrote, “to hang the jersey and boots in glory as I retire officially from active football.

“A stage that is difficult in every footballer’s career, a moment all footballers do not wish but when nature dawns that this voice will keep echoing into the ears.”

The 2010 BBC African Footballer of the Year made his international debut in 2003 as a 17-year-old, coming on as a substitute in a World Cup qualifier against Somalia. He made his final appearance for the Black Stars in 2019.

He played in seven Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, helping Ghana finish third in 2008 and as runners-up in the 2010 and 2015 editions.

The Confederation of African Football described him as “an absolute legend of the game” and “one of the best to ever do it”.

Gyan’s World Cup adventures

As well as being his country’s leading scorer, Gyan is also Africa’s top scorer at World Cups.

The first of his six goals came after just 68 seconds of the 2-0 win over the Czech Republic in a group game at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He scored three goals in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as Ghana reached the quarter-finals, but missed a crucial penalty at the end of extra time that would have seen his nation become the first African side ever to reach the last four.

The penalty was awarded after Uruguay’s Luis Suarez handled the ball on the goalline, a moment that has become legendary when placed alongside Gyan’s ensuing miss from the spot.

Gyan scored two more goals at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – against Germany and Portugal – before announcing his retirement from international football in 2019, although he did attempt a late, and unsuccessful, comeback before last year’s tournament in Qatar.

Gyan’s domestic career took him to 11 clubs in eight countries including Udinese in Italy, Rennes in France and Sunderland in England, plus Abu Dhabi, China Turkey and India, before a return to Ghana in 2020.

Asamoah Gyan celebrates a goal for Ghana with his teammates
Asamoah Gyan (centre) scored 51 goals in his 20 years representing Ghana

Retirement tips from another African legend

Gyan’s choice of location for the announcement of his retirement was slightly unusual, coming as it did at a banking conference.

Just before revealing his decision, Gyan turned to Drogba, who retired in 2018, and asked how he felt after stepping away from football.

“When your career is coming to an end it is very difficult,” said the former Ivory Coast and Chelsea man.

“You stop waking up to go to training, nobody is there to clean your boots, nobody is there to carry your bags and there is no manager behind you saying ‘come on you have to perform today.’

“If you are not strong enough here [points to head], and if you are not smart, you will go down.”

Struggling to hold back his tears, Gyan then interrupted and said: “It’s been echoing in my mind for the last year and a half. Sometimes people would ask me, ‘Have you retired?’ I still think I have something to offer but I have been contemplating it and I want to use this platform to tell everybody that it’s time.”

After an initial pause, the audience then rose to give a standing ovation.

But Gyan’s Twitter post made it clear that he will not be leaving football entirely.

“I will put my experience and knowledge to use in the field of coaching, football business and scouting,” he wrote.


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