12 Things You Must Know About Popular Ghanaian Footballer, Michael Essien

Michael Kojo Essien is a Ghanaian footballer who plays for AC Milan and with the Black stars of Ghana. He is particularly a household name in the Chelsea Club as a result of his almost a decade commitment to the club. Michael Essien is a midfielder who has often been lauded as a box-to-box midfielder for his ability to exert energy in supporting offensive and defensive play and for his tough tackling style. Essien can also play as a defender, both on the right of defense and in the centre. I guess you already know these very conspicuous facts about him. There are actually a lot more you should know.

1. He started his Football career with the Liberty Professionals


Michael who was born on December 3rd, 1982 began his football career after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, playing in a local club in his native Ghana, called Liberty Professionals. He broke through when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. This led to attention from European scouts, and he even had a trial at Manchester United in April 2000, playing in the club’s Under-17 team’s defeat by Derby County. Manchester United offered him a contract to play for them, but work permit issues meant he would have had to join their Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp until he was eligible to move to England. Since then, he has played for the following clubs: Batsia, Olympic Lyonnais, Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Milan.

2. His father was a footballer too

Michael’s dad, James Essien played football for Gold Coast in his youthful days. Even Michael’s late elder brother was also a footballer before his accidental and premature death. So I could say that football runs in his family.

3. He is Nicknamed “Bison”


Looking at how soft-spoken and shy Essien is when he is not playing, one would hardly believe he is the same person when in the field. Essien’s field forcefulness and tough tackling styles earned him the name “Bison”, the name of a large and very energetic buffalo-like terrestrial animal. However, he voices out on this unique contrast in behaviour:

“I don’t know why I change like that when I play, off the pitch I am completely different and the club staff have to chase me to move.”

4. He has Dual Citizenship

Michael’s 5-year football business in France earned him a French citizenship. He spent these five years playing for Bastia (2002-2003), and Lyon(2003-2005). His performances while playing for Olympique Lyonnais resulted in him being voted the 2005 Player of the Year by France’s National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP).  Essien also helped Lyon to reach the quarter-finals of the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League where he put in dynamic performances and scored five goals in the tournament.

5. He is from a Broken Home

Michael Essien was about two years old when his parents broke up. He, along with his siblings were taken and brought up by the mother. This made his father to be completely estranged from him. He is however, very close to his mother. He always emphasize how supportive his mum has been to him, especially in his football carer. He described her as the “Pillar behind Him”.

6. His father disowned him for Neglect earlier before his demise.


Michael’s dad, James Essien, a frail old unhealthy pauper, for the past years, has complained that he had been abandoned and neglected by his son. And for that reason, he seriously insists that Michael drop the surname, Essien. That’s his father’s house in the photo above. Isn’t that pathetic? Hear the poor old man:

I will go all out to ensure that he stops using my name…Even if I have to drag him to the law courts, I will do that…I have been ill for over a year now. It is Kyeremeh Berekum (Chelsea board chairman) who takes care of me, and I see no point in him continuing to bear my name,” James Essien told Happy FM, an Accra-based private radio station. I have not seen him for the past 15 years and I have not spoken to him for the past six years because I do not even have his number, let alone contact him…”

However, Michael denied this allegation, saying he takes care of the dad by sending him money on a monthly basis, takes care of his medical bills, has built him a house and bought him a car. Unfortunately, the man died not so long after.

7. He is the first African to be voted Chelsea Player of the Year

On 15 May 2007, Chelsea fans voted Essien as Chelsea Player of the Year for his contributions in the 2006–07 season, becoming the first African to receive the honour. His late dramatic equalising goal against Arsenal was also voted as Chelsea Goal of the Season for 2006–07.


8. His Net Worth is $35 million.

As at last year, Essien’s salary was 2.5 million Euro. He is one of the richest and most highly paid African footballer. His net worth is 35 million US Dollars.

9. He once Dated Fair-skinned Ghanaian Actress, Nadia Buari


Michael Essien had a no-secret relationship with Nadia Buari. It was so glaring that every Dick and Harry thought it was going to lead to something meaningful, but he suddenly left her for no clearly stated reasons.

10. He is Now Married to a Ghanaian Celebrity Publicist


Essien tied the knot with his publicist girlfriend, Akosua Puni in a secret wedding held in London late last year after he reportedly broke up with Ghanaian actress Nadia Buari. Puni is Michael’s Charity Foundation manager/PRO. They are already blessed with two kids, a boy and a girl. He has tried as much as possible to shield his new family from the social scene.

11. He turned down an offer to play for West Brom and QPR


Michael Essien recently snubbed a move to QPR – as he could not stomach playing for Chelsea’s west London rivals. The former Blues star has also turned down West Brom as he seeks a new club in Europe. Ghana midfielder Essien, 32, spent nine years with Chelsea before joining AC Milan a year ago and will be out of contract this summer. He doesn’t want to play in the Premier League for a different side to his old club Chelsea.

12. He Runs a Charity Foundation

The Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) is a local Ghanaian NGO founded by Michael Essien about a year ago by the renowned Ghanaian International and Chelsea Football Club Star. It aims to create opportunities and hope for the underprivileged in the Awutu Breku area. The goal of the MEF is to promote basic community amenities and opportunities for various groups through different projects and activities.