While the English Premier League is arguably the most exciting club football competition in Europe, the UEFA Champions League is undoubtedly the most prestigious tournament for European clubs.
Every season, the best clubs in Europe battle through the sun, rain and snow, travelling miles across the continent in the hope of lifting the trophy with the big ears at the end of the campaign.
The UEFA Champions League has featured some of the greatest ever players in the game.
From Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo; Zinedine Zidane to Ronaldo de Lima, everyone that is anyone has participated in this great competition.
And that includes Ghanaian players as well.
Not only have our best players competed in the UEFA Champions League, but some of them have also played starring roles in propelling their club sides into UCL glory.
Here are our top five Ghanaian players to have won the UEFA Champions League:
- Abedi Pele Ayew (Olympique Marseille 1992/93)
Abedi Pele is not only a legend of the Ghanaian game, he is a proper African football legend.
Scratch that. He is a football legend. Plain and simple.
One of Ayew’s greatest achievements came in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League season, when he played a pivotal role in Olympique Marseille’s run to the title.
If those were to be these days of rampant online sports betting, top bookies like betway Ghana wouldn’t have featured Marseille anywhere near their outright favourites for the title, but Pele and his crew defied the odds to help Marseille become the first French club to win the biggest title in Europe.
The former Black Stars captain produced a man-of-the-match performance in the final as the French side took down the might of AC Milan to become European champions.
Marseille won the match 1-0, with Abedi getting the assist for Basile Boli’s historic match-winning goal.
- Sammy Kuffour (Bayern Munich 2000/2001)
One of the most iconic scenes in UEFA Champions League history is Sami Kuffour’s reaction to Bayern Munich’s heart-wrenching defeat to Manchester United in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final.
As the clock ticked past 90 minutes at the Camp Nou, Bayern led 1-0 and looked destined to be crowned Champions of Europe until United staged one of the most ridiculous comebacks in football history, scoring two goals in time-added-on to snatch the trophy from Bayern’s grasp.
Kuffour wept uncontrollably after the final whistle, slapping the Barcelona turf repeatedly in despair.
Two years later, the Ghanaian defender would have his redemption.
Kuffour finally got his hands on the trophy in 2001, marshalling Bayern’s defence as the Germans edged out Valencia on penalties at the San Siro.
- Michael Essien (Chelsea 2011/2012)
After several Champions League near misses with Chelsea, especially the painful loss to Manchester United in the 2009 final in Russia, Michael Essien and Chelsea finally got over the line in 2012, when they scored a dramatic victory over Bayern Munich.
Chelsea were outplayed for most of the final, but the resilient Blues somehow kept themselves in the game- Didier Drogba heading home a late equalizer- before holding their nerves in the penalty shootout.
Essien didn’t not get to play in the latter stages of the 2012 run, and was an unused substitute in that final in Munich, but he was still able to get the coveted medal around his neck and get his hands on the famous old trophy.
That Champions League success was like an icing on the cake for almost 10 years of consistency and excellence.
Special mentions also to Sully Muntari, who won the Champions League with Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in 2010 and Ibrahim Tanko- a European champion with Borussia Dortmund in 1997!