Football is a popular sport the world over, but there are some countries where it is a national pastime, and Ghana is one of those. Football is taken very seriously and the national men’s team, known as the Black Stars, has yielded some of the most impressive players in footballing history, including Michael Essien and Abedi Pele.
A number of Ghanaian footballers play for Premier League teams in the UK, including:
As well as playing on the right wing for Crystal Palace, Jordan Ayew has also played on the Ghana national team since 2010, during which time he has earned ninety caps. Football is in his blood, as he is the son of the former captain, the aforementioned Abedi Pele, and his two uncles and both his brothers, Andre and Ibrahim, have played for the national team as well.
Ayew was born in France, but he has played for a number of different clubs, including:
- Swansea City
- Crystal Palace
He has played in five Africa Cup of Nations and two FIFA World Cups representing Ghana. His family connections mean that expectations are very high, particularly when he plays for the Black Stars, with fans berating him whenever they believe he has not lived up to his potential.
However, his Crystal Palace performance has earned him a favourable reputation, particularly after a very successful 2019/20 season. He was awarded Player of the Season, Goal of the Season (for a shot against West Ham United), and he was the highest scorer of the season.
More recently he was awarded Crystal Palace Player of the Month in August 2023, although he subsequently sustained an injury that could have an impact on his performance in the forthcoming season.
Another Ghanaian National Team player, Partey also plays as a defensive midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal. His career began when he was signed by Atletico Madrid in 2013, although he spent a couple of years on loan to Mallorca and Almeria.
He returned to Madrid in 2015 and was a member of the teams that won both the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup in 2018 and he was named Ghana Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019. He became the most expensive Ghanaian player of all time when he joined Arsenal in 2020 with an eye-watering transfer fee of £45 million, so expectations were always high.
There were rumours that he was going to be leaving Arsenal, but these were quashed in July when it appeared that Mikel Arteta had a change of heart and decided to keep him on the squad. Arsenal’s strength in depth has resulted in them being one of the title favourites with the UK betting sites and the record-breaking £105 million deal for Declan Rice has only given them more hope. The decision to keep Partey on the team paid off when Rice was injured for the second game of the season and he was there to step into the midfield, reinforcing his value to the team.
Although he was born in Hamburg and raised largely in the UK, Jeffrey Schlupp’s place on the Ghanaian national team sits neatly alongside his role in the Crystal Palace team. He plays in a variety of positions, from wing-back to forward and midfielder, his talents lie all over the pitch.
His love of football led him to the Leicester City Youth Academy where he was on the squad from 2010 with a three-year contract and he was already finding himself on the subs bench in 2011. Leicester’s manager at the time, the infamous Sven-Goran Eriksson, saw his potential and he travelled to Sweden with the team, playing in a series of friendlies before scoring a hat trick in his first League Cup match against Rotherham.
After playing with Leicester for several years, Schlupp signed with Crystal Palace in 2017 for a £12 million fee, but his international career has also involved some impressive moments. He scored his first goal for Ghana when they beat Mauritius 7-1 in an African Cup of Nations qualifying match.
After plenty of appearances for Crystal Palace in the last couple of seasons, Schlupp has become known as a utility player who can take on any position and show his worth. An athletic player, Schlupp is known for being able to bring his magic when the moment needs it, so expectations are high for him for the coming season.
With such a strong national enthusiasm for the sport, UK teams are always looking for players who demonstrate the passion for the game that has characterised so many of the world’s greatest players. Playing for the Ghanaian national team, known for demonstrating exacting standards, must surely have contributed to the success of some of the team’s players, not to mention the high expectations of the Ghanaian fans.