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A Rift Which Led to a Retirement – The Story of Gyan & Ayew’s Many Squabbles

An inside look at the squabble that saw Asamoah Gyan announce his retirement from Ghanaian football.

It is said that there is no smoke without fire and certainly no rows without a cause. Mainstream Ghana media was on Monday awash with a peculiar story of one of their icons who happens to be an African great, calling time to his football with The Black Stars.

The news, like anything Asamoah Gyan is wont to, turned huge. Today’s editions of back pages, from Accra to Kumasi, down to the provincial outlets, were filled with it.

It has sparked debates and sides taken, pundits included.

Locals online tore each other over the news. The positive side is that there was a good chunk appreciating Asamoah, also dubbed Baby Jet, for the years spent serving the Gold Coast. Critics too made their points noted – lashing out at their erstwhile captain while mocking him that he had reached his sell-by-date.

Gyan announced his retirement hours after Black Stars gaffer Kwesi Appiah had rescheduled a presser in which he was meant to make public his roster of selected players he thinks could apply the brakes to Ghana’s close to four decades run without scooping the African Cup.

Retirement is a result of careful evaluation usually fueled by a willingness to draw the curtain down to a career path, in sports, often after the realization that the body can no longer bear the rigors of the game.

For a player of the Gyan’s magnitude, a former Sunderland striker, a farewell match would have been more appropriate, accompanied with a hauling off minutes before the end of his final game, as has come to be favored in the modern game.

And perhaps, Asamoah would then be applauded by fans waving placards and not the smattering of boos, as he walked off the pitch to the substitutes’ bench and into retirement, never to be seen in Ghana’s famous red, yellow and green strips.

asamoah-ayew2But in the current realities that be, such a fitting bowing out looks far away from happening.

The timing of Gyan’s decision to hung up his boots is far from perfect. Made via a one-page statement, the content of the communiqué appears to suggest it was a work hastily done but carrying substantial meaning.

If the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team for the tournament, I wish to rescue myself from the tournament. I also wish to retire from the national team permanently, not pretending my presence would not fuel the purported undermining the country has seen under my captaincy.”

”I would continue to serve the country of Ghana in other endeavors as a businessman through various investments,” the 33-year-old striker said, appearing to lay bare what occurred behind the scenes.

Baby Jet made no direct mention of the player he said the coach wishes to be his heir-apparent but suggestions point to Swansea City’s on-loan wide-man Andre Dede Ayew, in the words of Accra-based publication Ghanaweb, “Dede is the substantive captain.”

According to some reports, Kwesi had planned to give Dede the arm-band while appointing Gyan as general captain much like the same transitioning that occurred at the time he, Gyan, took over the leadership role from John Mensah in 2012.

The report hints the goal-getter had asked to be given a breather to ponder over it when confronted with the proposal by the boss before calling back hours later to reject the idea in totality.

Offering an insight into the drama, Pulse TV Ghana and Ghanasoccernet said Gyan was adamant, insisting there is no way he would be giving away the much-discussed band to another player in the same tournament he is passed fit to compete in.

In the heat of things, Appiah is reported to have stood his ground, resulting in a wedge being driven between him and the skipper.

asamoah-ayew3An opinion piece weighing in on the argument rallied behind the outgoing team leader, slamming the move as a “betrayal” well-orchestrated on “a loyal soldier.”

The ongoing drama comes after Baby Jet had survived injury scares and began picking form, scoring thrice in two games – turning to tatters initial claims he was unfit to feature in this year’s Total Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

The trajectory then meant Andre Ayew and Appiah had an uphill task to shoulder, and should they fail to shine in Cairo, could well spell an end to the latter’s association with the West African squad and give rise to talks that The Black Stars can’t perform without their leading attacker.

Putting to perspective these deductions, it is paramount to elucidate the many squabbles Gyan and Ayew have had in the past.

When now 35-year-old defender Mensah retired years ago, there was longing for a new leader and Gyan, who’d been the understudy, stepped onto the plate.

By that time, Andre, then a budding talent for Marseille, had integrated well into the senior team following his debut against Senegal in 2007.

From within the inners of the squad, doubts existed over whether or not the ex-Udinese marksman could deliver in a dressing room littered with players with big egos.

Soon the possibility of a division in the camp became ubiquitous amid claims Kwesi was grooming Ayew as an immediate successor.

Aware news of squad disunity could disrupt the team’s plans, the parties involved have always denied the existence of any squabbles when grilled by the curious press.

Matters went on quietly from the 2014 World Cup down to the following year to the qualifier against Rwanda when Gyan spoke about the reported rumors being peddled around.

It turned out that the Ghanaian government and its football governing body were mired in a row with the former, through its sports ministry, refusing to cater for the plane tickets of the Black Stars for the aforesaid fixture.

Gyan and Ayew then took up the responsibility to cater for tickets of players. The story at this time had it that the duo sent tickets to only players siding with their respective camps, though the truth in that remains unconfirmed to this day.

As anticipated of a captain, Gyan played down the reports, repudiating any assertions heading that lane but ex-international Laryea Kingston wasn’t convinced.

asamoah-ayew4“The team has lost respect for Gyan. Watching afar, you can feel something is not right,” Laryea had said in 2016.

A year earlier, player Rabiu Muhammed played it safe in a group chat with his legion of social media followers when told between Gyan and Ayew who makes a better captain.

“They are both great captains and players. I like them both,” he replied, avoiding treading on toes.

Fast forward to June 2017, Asamoah was hauled off in the 5-0 white-washing of Ethiopia. He came off the pitch but did not pass on his arm-band to his deputy, consequently raising concerns of rancor.

The center-forward shrugged off claims of a rift in the aftermath of that outing, saying he is Dede’s idol and the winger’s father likes him as well.

“It is worrying to hear people say I have an issue with Andre Ayew. I was in the Black Stars before he came and I have been his idol since day one. His father even likes me so well,” he stated, after the 5-0 thrashing of Ethiopia.

Telling journalists his friendship with the Fenerbache man spans back to the time the U-20 World Cup winner joined the Black Stars in 2008, Jet accused reporters of creating rivalry where there was none in October, 2018.

“Andre is my assistant in the national team so when we’re in camp, we talk about the team’s progress.”
“Andre is my friend and there’s no friction between us. When I heard about him coming to Turkey, we spoke at length on a video call, I frequently speak with him. We do have a good relationship.”
“It’s the press that’s creating the rivalry between us.”
“These things create division in the team and it must be discouraged,” he alleged.

Kwesi being the squad’s overall commander, apparently growing exasperated over this never-ending brouhaha, opted for a stern move by dropping the Ayew brothers along with Gyan, eight months ago.

The decision, insiders say, sought to warn the stars to sort out their dissimilarities as Kwesi evaluated whether the trio’s exclusion could hamper the quality at his disposal.

asamoah-ayew5“It does not mean that the door is closed for the three players, or any other player left out…no, only that we are also giving a chance to others so that we can evaluate the depth and quality of players we have in Ghana.”

“We are just trying the new players and that does not mean those left out are not part of us. I have good players in my squad, who can do the job so we are not worried. We have to take our chances and defend well because we are playing away from home,” Appiah had told at the Kasarani training ground.

The gaffer later overlooked Gyan, making up with the Ayews before naming Andre his captain as he sharpened Ghana to the top of Group E in the qualifiers.

A sidelined Asamoah still showed up to lend support to the Black Stars and chatted heartily with left-sided midfielder Dede Ayew after their 1-0 win over Kenya. That picture became the juicy bits of headlines.

Then again things turned murky and the bad blood between the two back sprouting like never before.

Seeing the tempestuous relationship worsening by the day and could derail their AFCON campaign, Ghana’s head of state Nana Akufo Ado summoned the two players at a meeting witnessed by interim FA boss Dr. Kofi Amoah.

Central in that face-to-face meeting was the need for peace to reign and hours later, it is reported, the hatchet was been buried.

asamoah-ayew6“There is no disagreement between Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan. Both players were invited by the president [Nana Akufo-Addo] to the Jubilee House and the problem has been resolved. I was a witness to that and both players pledged to give their best to ensure the country wins the AFCON in Egypt,” Amoah told Metro TV last week.

Kofi’s assurances did not hold much meaning on Monday after Gyan decided to opt out of the bus.

A Start to Life without Gyan

Ghana boast of a plethora of talents and have close to seven forwards in top clubs in Europe. There is Jordan, Abdul Majeed Waris of Nantes, Levante’s Raphael Dwamena, 29-year-old William Owusu of Antwerp and Hamburg-born Bayern Munich’s Kwasi Okyere Wriedt whose stock is also on the rise.

Considering these players, goals aren’t expected to dry up for The Black Stars. A downside though would be that the majority of the stars are first-timers in the Africa Cup of Nations with Jordan and Waris the sole experienced heads.

The seven should more than fill the void the absence of Gyan would create on paper but whether that would be the reality in practicality became the question on the lips of pundits.

Asamoah had harbored intentions of going to this year’s African Cup of Nations and that sort of explains his move to depart cash-loaded UAE’s Shabab Al Ahli Dubai to Kayserispor where competition is a lot better in the Turkish Super Lig.

Injuries curtailed his involvement prior to his quick recuperation and return to goal-form. He scored three goals in the previous two outings putting him in contention for the AFCON before the latest turn of events.

A Gyan U-turn

Ghanaian football has had a drama-filled moment the last forty-eight hours after Gyan created buzz announcing he’d called it quits with the Black Stars owing to row over the captaincy.

However, in the latest development, the West African nation’s leading scorer with 51 goals is said to have reversed his decision after being talked out of it by president Nana Akufo Addo in which he is said to have accepted to be general captain and for Ayew to be the on-field captain.

It comes hot on the heels of reports Kwesi was also mulling resigning from the managerial seat in the wake of pressure to reinstall Gyan to his position.

Gyan is expected to issue a formal dispatch possibly on Wednesday rescinding the earlier pronouncement he made.

His never-say-die attitude would have been missed as Ghana toys with the idea of making the first leap into a life without their captain.

For the followers of Ayew, their man could have lead in peace for once, without looking over his shoulders. But ahead of him lies a gargantuan task as they attempt journeying into a tournament where nothing less than a semi or final achievement would be considered a catastrophe.

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