What’s in a name? Not so long ago, everything, that one small badge of family lineage binding you and yours to a certain rung on the social ladder for generations on end. Even today, a name is like a stamp of identity, carrying genuine weight that can often make it heavy to bear. Some manage to cope while others do not, but in cinema, music, politics, sport and the media, these sons and daughters of famous figures are legion.
Football has its own fair share of ambitious offspring, boys brought up feeling the same passion for the sport as their fathers. The phenomenon is easy to understand, with the natural inclination to want to follow in a father’s footsteps magnified by hearing his name chanted in reverential tones by stadium crowds.
“If you look at life in general, most children don’t do the same jobs as their dads – far from it,” Alain Giresse said”Football is no exception and I’d even go as far as saying that, unlike for artists, there’s zero predisposition.” Giresse’s own son, Thibault, might disagree with that analysis. The 28-year-old has now spent nine years plying his trade in the first and second divisions in France, but toiling in the shadow of the former France international – a member of Les Bleus’ ‘magic square’ midfield at the 1982 and 1986 FIFA World Cups™ – has undoubtedly been a constant struggle. The same goes for Jordi Cruyff, perpetually compared to his iconic father. Today Soccer Passion wants to have a look at the Ayew family of Ghana.
ABEDI AYEW PELE
Abédi Ayew, also known as Abédi “Pelé” (born November 5, 1964) is a former Ghana International football player and captain. He was named African Footballer of the Year in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Additionally, Pelé named him as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004.
Abédi Pelé was born into a family in a small village called Oko near Domé at the northern outskirts of Accra.
Abédi Pelé was one of the pioneers of African football in Europe. One of the first great African players to make an impact on European club football, he played for teams in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and most famously France where he was very instrumental in Marseille’s prominence in the European Champions League during the early 1990s. Amongst his international accolades, he was often included in FIFA “All-star” selections and captained the African all-stars in their victory over their European counterparts in the Meridian Cup of 1997.
He left Ghana after the ’82 African Cup for Qatar. After a short spell with F.C. Zurich in Switzerland he returned to Ghana but, after both Kotoko and Hearts of Oak failed to signed him, joined AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé of Benin. He would later return to Ghana and play for Real Tamale United for a season. He started his European career in France with Chamois Niort, then Montpellier and Lille, before he moved to Olympique Marseille. He later joined Lyon. He also played for Torino of Italy, where he won the Best Foreign Player in Serie A, before finishing his European sojourn with 1860 Munich.
Abédi Pelé went on to sign a 2 year contract with Al Ain FC in the United Arab Emirates and was nominated as one of the best foreign players to play in the UAE league.
He was the captain of Ghana’s national football team for 6 years (1992–1998) and was one of the first African football players to finish highly in FIFA World Player of the Year lists in 1991 and 1992. He is arguably Africa’s most decorated and honored football player ever, winning the France Football Magazine African player of the year award 3 times, the BBC sports person of the year, and the Confederation of African football version twice. He was also awarded the golden ball award for being the best player at the 1992 African Cup of Nations, and was the “man of the match” in Marseille’s historic European Champions League final win over AC Milan in 1993.
Abédi Pelé played for Ghana 73 times and is considered the greatest football player in his country’s history, and among the best in Africa. He is the top goal scorer for Ghana’s Black Stars in its 50 year footballing history with 33 goals. He was a fixture in the African Championships of the 1980s and 90s with his national team, and a member of Ghana’s victorious team in the 1982 African Cup of Nations, but he never had an opportunity to play in the FIFA World Cup, as the Black Stars failed to qualify for the competition during his career. However, he was arguably the most dominant figure on the African football scene for nearly a decade. His performance in the 1992 African Cup of Nations is often cited as one of the most outstanding football displays by any player in a single tournament. His native Ghana reached the finals of the Cup that year, only to lose on penalties in the final to Ivory Coast after Abedi was suspended because of a Yellow card he received in the Semi-final match against Nigeria. Prior to that, his 3 spectacular goals against Zambia, Congo and Nigeria proved crucial in putting Ghana through to their 7th appearance in a CAN final – and their first final in 10 years. The performance earned him the added nickname of “The African Maradona”. His solo run goal against Congo in the quarter finals is often compared to Maradona’s 2nd against England in the 1986 world cup. His backheader goal against Nigeria from the edge of the opponent’s penalty box also heralded international acclaim.
Abédi holds the record for most appearances at the Nations Cup Finals, beating even the legendary Roger Milla of Cameroon to the record. He made his first appearance at the 13th Nations Cup Finals in Libya in 1982 and for the next 16 years (ending at the 21st Finals in Burkina Faso) continued to grace the most prestigious football tournament on the continent, first as a member of Ghana’s squad rising to become captain in 1991. Aside from his acclaimed exploits at the 1992 competition, Abedi also earned much acclaim for his 3 goals at the 1996 competition – where he lead Ghana to the semi finals of the competition despite critics expecting him to be in the twilight of his career.
At the club level, he was a key figure in Olympique de Marseille’s dominance of the French league – resulting in 4 league championships and 2 European Champions League finals appearances. An attacking midfielder, Abédi became as famous for his sublime dribbling skills as well as a talent for scoring spectacular and often very important goals. Many such goals became regular “Goals of the Week” on ITN’s weekly “European Football” program. At Marseille, he was a member of the team’s “Magical Trio”, along with Jean Pierre Papin and Chris Waddle – spearheading perhaps Europe’s strongest league side of the early 1990s. Abedi was the only remaining member of the trio still with the side when Marseille defeated AC Milan in the 1993 Champions league final in Munich.
Ayew has the singular honour of participating in more FIFA organized charity matches than any other African player. He is very popular in many African countries, especially the French-speaking countries because of his exploits in France. In countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, football fans still wear T-shirts bearing his name. He has become one of the continent’s most respected and important ambassadors. Abedi Pelé is a member of FIFA’s Football Committee, and of the player status committees of both FIFA and CAF. That explains why the South African FA made him a Spokesperson for their 2006 World Cup bid. Abedi is considered one of the best players in World History to not appear at the FIFA World Cup, and perhaps the greatest African football player ever.
In appreciation of Abedi’s devout services to the country, the Ghanaian government awarded him the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Volta (civil division). He thus becomes the first Ghanaian sportsman to be so honoured.
On 29 January 1997, the first UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup All-Star Match between Europe and Africa was played in S.L. Benfica’s Estádio da Luz in Lisbon Portugal and was televised in 100 countries worldwide, including 30 in Africa, for a 60 million audience. Former Olympique de Marseille midfielder Abedi Pelé was on target with a stunning goal early in the first half and, after Vincent Guérin had equalised for Europe just before half-time, it was the 1998 African Player of the Year, Mustapha Hadji, who struck Africa’s 78th-minute winner in the 2-1 win.
In 2001, the UEFA-CAF Meridian Cup All-Star Match format was changed slightly for the second All-Star Match to bring together great players aged between 35 and 45 who now revel in their ‘veteran’ status and play the game purely for pleasure. The squad sparked off memories of great footballing moments at club and international level.
In June 2001 he was nominated by the government of Ghana to serve as the next Chairman of the FA, an opportunity he later gave up for a more experienced former coach of Ghana for which in his own words said that this was to be an opportunity to learn from his superiors.
At present he owns a second division club, called Nania F.C., with the future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledging league of the country. He has also been involved with various Charity work across the Continent.
He was recently embroiled in a serious alleged Second Division Promotion Play-off bribery scandal for which the Football Association found him and others guilty. The guilty verdict attracted fines and suspensions of Abedi and others, but these have been quashed by the Appeals Committee of the Football Association after determining that there were irregularities in the initial judgement of the Ghana Football Association. The allegations stem from an astonishing 31-0 victory recorded by his club, Nania FC over a much respected Okwawu United side. A similarly farcical 28-0 result was recorded in another second division match played between Great Mariners and Tudu Mighty Jets on the same weekend. The clubs involved in that Second Division Promotion Play-off Zone III match were also investigated and subject to the prospect of stiff penalties and demotions. Despite his vehement denials, Abedi had been chastised by some members of the Ghanaian media, who were demanding that strong punitive actions be taken against him, by Ghana’s football governing body as well as the legal system. His wife Maha Ayew was on 3 November 2008 banned from football against this Manipulations Scandal.
He currently features in the EA Sports FIFA 07 and FIFA 08 video game as a star of their Classic eleven.
Major Honors and awards
• UEFA Champions League with Olympique de Marseille Winner: 1993
• European Cup with Olympique de Marseille Finalist medal: 1991
• French Ligue 1 with Olympique de Marseille Winner: 1988/1989, 1989/1990, 1990/1991, 1991/1992
• French Cup with Olympique de Marseille: Winner 1989
• French League & Cup Double with Olympique de Marseille Winner: 1988/1989
• Prince of Qatar Cup with Al-Sadd Winner: 1983
• Emir’s Cup with Al-Ain 1998/99
• African Cup of Nations Winner 1982
• African Cup of Nations Finalist Medal 1992
• West African Nations Cup – SCSA Zone III Winner 1982, 1983, 1984
• 1996 African Cup of Nations 4th Place
• FIFA 100
• “Order of the Volta” (Civil division) – Highest Ghana National award
• African Footballer of the Year Winner: 1991, 1992, 1993
• FIFA World Player of the Year: 9th 1992, Nomination 1991
• African Player of the Century by IFFHS 3rd Best
• Top 30 African Footballers in the last 50 years(2007) 5th Place
• African Footballer of the Year Nominations: 85,86,87,88,89,90
• Italian Serie A Best Foreign Player Winner: 1995/96
• Fifa All-Star Forward: 1992,1993,1996,1997,1999
• 1992 African Nations Cup Player of the Tournament: Golden Ball Winner
• BBC African Player of the Year Winner: 3 Times
• African Cup of Nations Appearances: 5 Times – 1982,1992, 1994,1996,1998
• Ghana SWAG Best Colts (Young) Player Winner: 1978
• Most Capped Ghana Player of All-Time: 73 International Caps & 33 Goals
• On March 26, 2004, he was appointed a “(WAFUNIF) Special Envoy 4 Peace and Development”Ghana Footballer of the Year –
Kwame Ayew (born in Accra, December 28, 1973) is a football forward from Ghana, who recently retired from football after saving Vitória F.C. from relegation.
Ayew was a member of the Men’s National Team that won the bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
Kwame is the brother of Abedi Pelé and Sola Ayew (ex-Hearts of Oak and Black Meteors) as and the uncle of Andre Ayew, Rahim Ayew, Imani Ayew and Jordan Ayew.
At Club level,he represented teams like Africa Sports(Ivory Coast), FC Metz, Al Ahli(Saudi Arabia), U.S. Lecce, União de Leiria and also played for teams in China and Turkey. In 2004, he was the Chinese Football Association Golden Boot awardee.
Sola Ayew is the brother of Kwame Ayew and Abedi Ayew.He is an ex-Accra Hearts of Oak player.He has also represented the Black Meteors of Ghana on many occasions.
Abdul Rahim Ayew also known as Rahim Ayew (born 27 September 1985 in Tamale) is a Ghanaian footballer, currently playing as a midfielder for El Zamalek in the Egyptian League.
Ayew began his career for his father’s team Nania F.C. and was in January 2009 transferred to Eleven Wise. He agreed to sign for German club TSG Hoffenheim, signing on a three and a half year contract, but the deal never materialized. On 17 June 2009, after much speculation, the 23-year-old Ghanaian national player signed from Sekondi Wise Fighters to Egyptian giants El Zamalek FC, where he signed a five-year contract.
Ayew has played for Ghana at the U-17, U-20, U-23 and the Senior Team levels.He was part of the 23 man squad that went to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Abdul Rahim is the brother of André Ayew and Jordan Ayew, son of Maha and is the eldest son of Abédi Pelé, and the nephew of Sola and Kwame Ayew.
André “Dede” Ayew (born December 17, 1989 in Seclin, France), is a Ghanaian-French footballer who plays for Olympique de Marseille.
Ayew was born in Lille, France, when his father was playing Professional football at OSC Lille and has dual French-Ghanaian nationality. The teenage prodigy has long been touted as one of the best youngsters in the France and actually received four call-ups into the French National Youth team, but was prevented from joining them because of minor injuries. He began his career 2003 under his father Abedi Pele by Nania F.C. and played with his team by the U-19 youth cup in Altstetten 2004.
He is a prodiguous left-footed attacking midfield product of the Marseille Youth academy. He joined Marseille as a trainee in 2005 and impressed by scoring 11 goals with the second team in 2006–07 season. His younger brother, Jordan, is also on the books of the Marseille youth side.
On 28 May 2007, the young midfielder was promoted to the Marseille professional team and signed a three-year deal to keep him at the club until June 2010. “I am grateful to God for giving me the opportunity to play for the first team of this great club,” Dede told BBC Sport, “I know this is the result of the hard work I have done since joining the club two years ago. I will not let this opportunity slip past me as I will do everything possible to justify the confidence reposed in my ability.”
Marseille coach Albert Emon praised Dede’s performance after the teenager played in all pre-season matches for the French giants.
But the youngster is aware that he faces an uphill task to win a first-team shirt at the club where his father won the 1993 UEFA Champions League and also won the French league titles in 1988–89, 1990–91, 1991–92 and 1992–93.
“I was very happy when I was told by journalists that the coach praised me during press conference, I am also aware that we have a large squad of highly experienced players so I am patient and I will wait for my chance.” Dede said.
On November 6, 2007 he made his full debut start for Marseille during the UEFA Champions League 2007-08 away game against F.C. Porto at the Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal. He won all-round praise in the French media for his superb performances especially in the individual match-up with Porto defender José Bosingwa shrugged off the post-match comments stressing that keeping his place in the side will be his biggest challenge. “It is good to hear the praise from everybody but the most important thing is to stay in the squad and play better in every game,” Ayew told BBC Sport.
According to British and French media reports, Ayew has been closely watched by Arsenal scouts, with the possibility of a summer deal and a switch to the Emirates Stadium.
On August 12, 2008, Ayew was loaned to French Ligue 1 club FC Lorient from Olympique de Marseille, where he spent the 2008/09 Season.
On August 31, 2009, it was announced that Ayew will spend the 2009-10 season on loan at French Ligue 2 club AC Arles-Avignon.
He is the son of legendary Olympique de Marseille and former Ghanaian maestro and captain Abedi Pelé. The teenage prodigy is keen to emulate his father, who also won his first Ghana cap as a young 17 year old in the 1982 African Cup of Nations and won the African Footballer of the Year award three consecutive times in the 1990s as the captain of the Black Stars. “Obviously my first choice is to play for my country, for the people of Ghana and to represent Africa in the right way in the eyes of the World.
“Every father wants his son to follow in his footsteps and if God permits I want to better what my father did for our country and Africa.”But if the country that my father did everything for doesn’t give me the opportunity, I have to respect the French coaches who have shown confidence in me”.
After playing so well at Youth level and making it into the professional l’OM team, a senior International call up was imminent. On 7 August 2007, young 17 year old André was called up by Ghana Coach Claude Le Roy for a FIFA International friendly match against Senegal in the New Den Stadium in London, England on 21 August 2007. He made his debut for Ghana after coming on as a substitute in the 1–1 draw game.
He was selected for Ghana’s 2008 African Cup of Nations Squad and wore the number 12 jersey.
In the 2009 edition of the U20 African Youth Cup in Rwanda, Dede captained the Ghana Black Stars to a gold medal. He scored 2 goals and played in every match even though he battled with injury during the tournament. He led his team to win the FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Egypt later in 2009.
In the tournament, Ayew scored twice against England in a 4–0 rout and the equalizing goal against South Africa in the Round of 16. Ghana later won the match in extra time through a goal from Dominic Adiyiah. Ayew then captained the team to victories over the Korea Republic and Hungary in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively, to reach the final where they faced Brazil. In the final, Ghana defeated the Brazilians 4–3 on penalties to win the U-20 World Cup. Ayew converted Ghana’s first penalty in the shootout.
Ayew made his second major international tournament appearance by appearing at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. On 19 January 2010, in the team’s final group stage match against Burkina Faso, he scored his first international goal in 30th minute connecting on a header. Ghana won the match 1–0 and reached the final where they were defeated 1–0 by Egypt.Ayew appeared in all five matches the team contested. On 7 May 2010, Ayew was named to coach Milovan Rajevac’s 30-man preliminary squad to participate in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was later named to the 23-man team to compete in the competition alongside his brother Ibrahim. On 12 June, Ayew made his FIFA World Cup debut in the team’s opening group stage match against Serbia starting ahead of the much more experienced Sulley Muntari. He later started in the team’s ensuing group stage matches against Australia and Germany. In the team’s Round of 16 match against the United States, Ayew assisted on the game-winning goal scored by Asamoah Gyan after sending a lob pass into the United States defense, which Gyan collected and then converted. For his performance in the match, Ayew was named Man of the Match by FIFA.Ayew missed the team’s quarter-final defeat on penalties to Uruguay due to yellow card accumulation.
André is the Son of Abedi Pelé and Maha Ayew, he is also the nephew of Kwame Ayew and Sola Ayew & brother of Jordan Ayew and Abdul Rahim Ayew.
Jordan Ayew (born September 11, 1991 in Seclin, France), is a Ghanaian-French footballer who plays for French club Marseille. He was handed the invitation thanks to excellent outing for his club in the junior leagues of the country. He is the youngest son of Abedi Pele, brother from Andre Ayew, Rahim Ayew and one Sister Imani Ayew. He is the nephew of Kwame Ayew and Sola Ayew.
Ayew, the youngest son of Ghanaian legend Abedi Ayew Pele, signed a three-year contract with top French club Olympique Marseille after impressing in the junior ranks in 2009.
Ayew has said he is determined to make his mark in Ligue 1.
“I am very happy this has been sorted out. Now my priority is to build my football future at the club and make a mark here,” he told kickOffGhana.com
The promising striker has been tipped by Abedi Pele as the best player among his three sons. He is the second Ayew sibling to attempt to make the grade at OM.
Older brother, Andre Dede, was at the club for two seasons but was recently considered surplus to requirements.
Ayew senior featured for Marseille in the early ’90s.