Known as the Ghanaian "Pele" due to his world-class skills comparable to Brazil's masterful player, "Pele" (Edson Arantes do Nascimento), Abedi Ayew was fast and nimble on the field. In 1978, Ayew signed on with Ghana's Real Tamale United. His dazzling techniques quickly captured the imagination of international scouts who promptly recruited him — this was unprecedented at the time for African football players, making Ayew a pioneer.
He battled racism in France, ultimately proving his worth on the Marseille team with a 1993 Champions League win against AC Milan. In Ghana, Ayew played for the national team for 16 years and captained it for six years. He also played in five Africa Cup of Nations.
In 1991, 1992, and 1993, Ayew won the African Player of the Year award. He was the first man to have done so three consecutive years. When Ayew retired in 1998, he received the highest honor the Ghanaian government bestows on civilians, the Order of Volta.