The notorious missed penalty by Asamoah Gyan against Uruguay in the last minute of extra-time during the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup would have set Ghana on the map as the first African team to reach a semi-final.
Famed for his eccentric hairstyles, World Cup drama, music accolades, and a remarkable tally of goals, there’s no denying that Asamoah Gyan stands out as one of the most vibrant figures in African football.
The respected Ghanaian veteran bid farewell to his playing career on Tuesday, concluding a two-decade-long global journey.
Gyan, a 37-year-old forward, graced three World Cup tournaments and seven Africa Cup of Nations (Afcons), often serving as captain of the Black Stars. Despite his significant contributions, he frequently fell just short of glory.
Sport Newes Center Africa delves into the stats and incidents that shaped his career both on and off the field.
- Gyan: Ghana’s premier goalscorer
Gyan holds the record as Ghana’s highest scorer of all time, having netted 51 goals in 109 games. Andre Ayew is the only player who has represented the Black Stars more times.
Gyan’s international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Somalia in November 2003 was a sign of his future impact when he scored just five minutes after joining the game as a 77th-minute substitute. Three days before his 18th birthday, this goal crowned him as Ghana’s youngest scorer.
Former international colleague John Paintsil vividly recalls his first encounter with a young Gyan during their time at Ghanaian team Liberty Professionals.
He reminisced about a match when the youth team outperformed the seniors, particularly impressed by a striker who was quick, skillful, and formidable in the air. Paintsil said, “Gyan showed such skill that he had me twisting and turning, and before I knew it, the ball was in the back of the net. I knew then he’d become one of Ghana’s best strikers, and he did.”
Gyan’s impressive tally of eight Afcon goals was offset by final losses in 2010 and 2015. His record of 31 appearances over seven tournaments ties him second on the all-time list, just behind compatriot Ayew (34). Only Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan has played in more Afcons.
Paintsil praised Gyan as “one of the finest strikers that Ghana and Africa has produced.”
- World Cup highlights…and the infamous penalty
Gyan holds the record as Africa’s highest scorer in World Cup history, having scored six goals across three tournaments (2006, 2010, and 2014).
Despite the bitter disappointment of his penalty miss in the quarter-finals against Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup, Gyan displayed incredible resilience. Although he missed the crucial penalty, he demonstrated bravery in scoring from the spot just minutes later. Yet, Ghana still lost the shootout 4-2.
Paintsil shared the emotional turmoil Gyan underwent that night, “We had to comfort him, but he was inconsolable. He still carries that pain.”
Gyan bounced back to lead his country in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, scoring two more goals, but the Black Stars finished last in their group.
- The charm of the number three
Gyan’s choice to wear the number three jersey, a decision he maintained throughout his career, was influenced by his brother and his Christian faith.
His older brother, Baffour Gyan, who also played as a striker for the national team, suggested the number because it represented the Holy Trinity in Christian belief.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Asamoah Gyan
Who is Asamoah Gyan?
Asamoah Gyan is a Ghanaian former professional footballer who is considered one of the most vibrant figures in African football. He’s known for his remarkable goal-scoring ability, vibrant personality, and for representing Ghana in three World Cup tournaments and seven Africa Cup of Nations.
What is Gyan’s most famous moment in the World Cup?
Perhaps the most memorable moment of Gyan’s career was during the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals against Uruguay. Gyan missed a penalty in the last minute of extra-time, which if scored, would have made Ghana the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Why did Asamoah Gyan wear the number three shirt?
Gyan’s choice to wear the number three jersey, a decision he maintained throughout his career, was influenced by his brother Baffour Gyan, who also played as a striker for the national team, and by his Christian faith. The number three represents the Holy Trinity in Christian belief.
What else is Asamoah Gyan known for, apart from football?
Aside from his football career, Asamoah Gyan also pursued a successful music career. He recorded three albums with hiplife musician Castro under the stage name Baby Jet. Their single “African Girls,” released in August 2010, won the best hiplife single of the year at the Ghana Music Awards.
How many clubs did Asamoah Gyan play for during his career?
Asamoah Gyan played for 11 clubs in eight different countries during his career. This includes spells in Italy, France, Turkey, China, and India. His most high-profile move was to Premier League Sunderland after his exploits at the World Cup in South Africa.