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Africa’s legends: Ghana’s Abedi Pelé

By Sami Ghorbal
Posted on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 07:58

As part of our series on Africa’s footballing legends we profile Abedi

‘Pelé’ Ayew, the father of current Black Stars Ibrahim and André. He

was worthy of the myth.

It is a tall order to be nicknamed Pelé (after the Brazilian player) in childhood. You then have to live up to it. Abedi Pelé Ayew has done so.?

Born in Dome in 1962, he could have listened to his cattle-breeder father and not become a professional footballer. But then the world would never have known his dance-like dribbles, his killer ?assaults on defenders, his acceleration, his doggedness and his unparalleled vision of the game. Aged 20, the Real Tamale player was capped as a Black Star for the first time and leapt off the substitutes’ bench to help secure Ghana’s 1982 African title.?

His international career lead him to Qatar, Switzerland and Benin. In 1986, he opted for France and a stint at Niort before moving to Lille and finally attaining stardom at Olympique de Marseille. It was OM’s heyday – under the ownership of entrepreneur Bernard Tapie – and he helped take the team to three French championship victories and several European triumphs. In OM’s Champions’ League victory in 1993, he provided the crucial pass that set up Basile Boli’s decisive goal.?

His Black Stars career was always less glorious than his club achievements in France. He was on the team that lost the 1992 African Cup of Nations final and always regretted missing the chance of playing in the World Cup. Nevertheless he won three Golden Balls (1991, 1992 and 1993) and played club football with Torino and in the Bundesliga (for 1860 Munich) before retiring in 2000 after a stint in Abu Dhabi.