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23.05.2019 Sports News

Wham, bam, no thank you, Gyan: Ghana's president steps in to stop player quitting

By Paul Myers - RFI
AFP/Rodger Bosch

It was the legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who once rasped that football was more important than life or death. But the notoriously fiery Scotsman, in the calm of the everday, was able to chuckle about his intensity.

Whether the Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo will be able to parade such good humour is in doubt after he cut away from politics to speak to the footballer Asamoah Gyan to try and cajole him back into the Ghana national squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Gyan, 33, who plays for the Turkish top flight side Kayserispor, announced his retirement from the Black Stars - as they are nicknamed - with immediate effect on Monday.

The record goal scorer said he had spoken with his family and advisors and preferred to withdraw from the fray due to a simmering row with coach Kwasi Appiah over leadership roles in the squad.

"If the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team for the tournament, I wish to recuse myself from the tournament," said Gyan in a statement.

Gyan has played in Italy, France, England and in the Middle East, while amassing 106 caps for Ghana since his international debut at the age of 17 against Somalia in 2003.

He is the country's leading scorer with 51 strikes across World Cups in Germany, South Africa and Brazil as well as half a dozen Cup of Nations tournaments since 2008.

That wealth of experience is invaluable on and off the pitch for a squad attempting to end 37 years of hurting since their last crown at Africa's most prestigious national team tournament.

Eugene Arhin, the president's spokesman, said: "The president urged him, in the national interest, to rescind his decision to retire from the Black Stars and make himself available for selection."

Mohammed Sowah, the mayor of Accra, the city where Gyan was born, said: "His decision to quit came as a surprise and the whole nation has been pondering over it.

"We hope that the matter will be resolved quickly so that the team will go into the Africa Cup of Nations united to win the tournament because it's something we've been yearning for since 1982."

Ghana begin their bid for a fifth title in Group F along with defending champions Cameroon as well as Benin and Guinea-Bissau.