Eleven Years ago today, Ghana’s legend Asamoah Gyan joined England side Sunderland FC in the Premier League from Rennes after a blistering display for Black Stars at the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament held in South Africa where Ghana reached the last 16 stage.
Accra provided a young Gyan with his first platform to perform, but the talented, promising striker soon outgrew Liberty Professionals and opted to move to Europe to pursue his dream. Udinese took a chance on this little-known Ghanaian 18-year-old, athough he didn’t get his first break in the senior squad until a two-year stint at Modena in Serie B came to a close.
French club Rennes came in for Gyan’s services in 2008, a move that saw him find his old form again. With the French game a little more open than the one in Italy, the explosive striker had more space to work in, and more importantly, more space in behind.
After his rise to global stardom, Rennes found it difficult to hang onto Gyan. The striker was on the radar of several Premier League clubs and, just as it looked as if he would have to stay in France, Steve Bruce’s Sunderland swooped to sign him on deadline day. The fee was in the region of £13m, making him the club’s most expensive signing.
The striker scored on his Black Cats debut to put his new side ahead away to Wigan, latching onto Jordan Henderson’s cross from deep to volley past Ali Al-Habsi as English football fans caught sight of Gyan’s bizarre dance that would go down in Premier League folklore.
That dance was rolled out in various Premier League stadiums, with the Ghanaian netting at White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. Gyan played an influential part in one of Sunderland’s greatest victories in recent history, slotting their second goal past Petr Čech to earn a 3-0 win away at champions Chelsea.
After the ball had hit the net, Gyan, looking somewhat baffled as to what was going on, made his way over to the away fans to perform his moves and was joined, hilariously, by Bolo Zenden at the corner flag. The Dutchman proved that you need a bit of rhythm to pull off Gyan’s famous shapes.
Throughout his first season in England, Gyan would feature heavily in a Sunderland side punching above their weight, forming a formidable strike partnership with a prolific Darren Bent. Despite a lofty 10th-place finish for the Black Cats, finances were still an issue at the club and the wage bill was becoming a target for cuts.
Late in the summer of 2011, after starring in Ghana’s friendly draw with England at Wembley, Gyan was sent out on loan to Al Ain in the UAE. Sunderland’s chairman, Niall Quinn, cited that the deal was financially beneficial for both the player and the club.
As footballers often do when they move to a club outside Europe, Gyan fell off the radar for the four years that he spent in the Middle East. Al Ain enjoyed plenty of success with the Ghanaian in their side, winning the UAE Pro League three times in the four seasons, with Gyan scoring 73 goals in just 65 games.
The Ghanaian striker’s rise started taking a nose dive after spending so many years outside of Europe and became shadow of his former self and started fading out with a move to India Premier League team Northeast United FC and in the 2020-21 season returned to Ghana to feature for Legon Cities FC in the Ghana Premier League.
The Ghana legend, 35, played 36 matches in all competitions for Sunderland FC in England and bagged 11 goals with five assists, scoring 10 times in 23 Premier League games with five assists and coming on as a sub 11 times out of his total 23 games in his first season and featured 34 times in all in the English top-flight with one appearance each in the EFL and FA CUP Competition respectively.