A great captain doesn’t need to be the very best player on the pitch in any given team, neither do they have to be a footballer of spectacular talent.
Captains are the motivator, mediator, leader and most importantly must be an example for all the other players to follow. They are the force that drives the team to glory.
Erstwhile Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger described a captain as the guy who is the voice of the manager, a guy who can maintain a good level of focus in the dressing room and a guy who can remind people what they are there for and what the target is.
The Ghana National football team has over the last 3 decade seen such men, they include; Akwasi Appiah, Abedi Pele, C.K. Akonnor, Stephen Appiah, John Mensah, Asamoah Gyan and Dede Ayew. But who’s the greatest captain amongst these men?
We first take a look at the Black Stars captaincy profile of each of them.
Akwasi Appiah, a left back, featured for the national team between 1987 to 1992. He captained the team within that time.
Appiah appeared in numerous qualifying games, including FIFA World Cup qualifying matches. Appiah failed to lead the national team to any major tournament in his time as captain.
Patently Ghana’s greatest player of all time and one of Africa’s greatest players, Abedi Pele is widely known as “The Maestro” or “The African Maradona”.
Abedi Pele featured for the Black Stars from 1982 to 1998. He within that time featured in 73 games, scoring 33 goals.
Abedi replaced Akwasi Appiah as Black Stars captain in 1992. He captained the team from them till 1998. He led the team to four different Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), the highest by any captain of the national team (1992, 1994, 1996 and 1998).
CHARLES KWABLAN AKONNOR
Charles Kwablan Akonnor, nicknamed “CK” played for Ghana between 1991-2001. He made 51 appearances, scoring 12 times.
CK Akonnor was a born leader, an attribute he showed in the various level of his career, he was named captain of the Black Stars following Abedi Pele’s retirement in 1998.
CK led Ghana to the 2002 African Cup of Nations in Mali.
Stephen “Tornado” Appiah played for the Black Stars between 1995-2010. He made 67 appearances and scored 14 goals.
Appiah was named captain of the Black Stars in 2003, he captained the team till his retirement in 2010. Appiah qualified the team to three AFCON tournaments (2006, 2008, 2010), but he failed to make an appearance in 2008 and 2010 as he was injured.
Appiah led Ghana to it first World Cup in 2006. He led Ghana to another World Cup in 2010, where Ghana pulled off the best performance by an African team at the tournament by reaching the quarterfinals. He’s the longest serving captain among all 7 captains in the last 3 decade.
John Mensah, also named “Rock of Gibraltar” made his Black Stars debut in 2001, he played for the team till 2012. Mensah appeared in 83 games, scoring 3 goals.
Mensah was made captain of the team in 2010 after Appiah’s retirement. He qualified and led Ghana to the AFCON in 2012.
Although Appiah was the permanent captain of the team at the AFCON in 2008 and World Cup in 2010, Mensah captained the team at both tournaments as Appiah missed out on the 2008 AFCON due to injury and made sub appearances at the 2010 World Cup.
Asamoah Gyan, “Baby Jet” made his Black Stars debut at age 17 in 2003. He has since then been a member of the team till present day.
Gyan has made the most appearances (109) for the national team, he has also scored the most goals (51).
He was made captain of the national team in 2013 until 2019 when he was replaced by Andre Ayew prior to the AFCON in Egypt. Asamoah Gyan has led Ghana to 3 AFCONS (2013, 2015, 2017).
ANDRE DEDE AYEW
Andre Ayew, also known as Dede Ayew made his Black Stars debut in 2008. He has been a member of the team since then. Ayew has so far featured in 88 games for the Black Stars, scoring 15 goals.
Dede Ayew was captain of the under-20 team that won both the African Youth Championship and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2010. He was named captain of the Black Stars in 2019, replacing Asamoah Gyan. Dede Ayew led Ghana to the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
OPINIONS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Stephen Appiah for me… His leadership qualities was unmatched
— KAMAL GWAKUNDA (@Kamals55s) June 6, 2020
For me I think Stephen Appiah…i didn't get the chance to watch the others aside Baby Jet and Dede..
Appiah's exhibited a pure leadership quality both on and off the pitch..
— Mamaba 🥰 (@EdwinEyram) June 6, 2020
— pound of fresh (@kwbdex) June 6, 2020
The first there I didn't have the chance to watch them like the 4 beneath. But, based on documentaries and oral testimonies i got to know much about the first 3.
So if I'm to juxtapose the qualities of these 7, Stephen Appiah is the best for me.
— Nima Highway 🛣 (@KojoAntwi_) June 6, 2020
Tornado most def. Dude's leadership qualities brought so much into the team. His captainship ensured he did not domineer over the players and they reciprocated. In fact, Ghana football was at the pinnacle during his tenure x…
— AJ (@_maxfort) June 6, 2020
For me, I think it is Stephen Tonado Appiah. As much as the baby jet comes to this buh I think Stephen is the best captain ever for the blackstars. His personality on the pitch, his history as a player and the way he carries himself on and off the pitch just makes him the best https://t.co/GLH8fcmzMV
— JuxPsalmIsFine😁❤✌ (@1realsamx) June 6, 2020
top goal scorer
So I'll go for Asamoah Gyan
— Rasputin (@Saint_thompsonn) June 6, 2020
Asamoah Gyan for me, though he has his fouls but IMO I’ll pick him cuz of his leadership quality, how he boast the confidence of his fellow teammates and not to forget the essential goals he scored.
— Carter D'Legend 🃏 (@Carterdlegend) June 6, 2020
1. "his" team has been the most successful in recent years and you could see a true leader in him in a team that had some world class players or something close in it.
— Trigger #siAlfutur (@Dtrigger_cule) June 6, 2020
Stephen Appiah. Led Ghana to relative success in the World Cup. A feat no other has done iMO
— Kofi Starry (@kofi_starry) June 6, 2020
Results oriented https://t.co/v4IC67vX4w
— kojo ekwam banafo (@KojoBanafo) June 6, 2020
Stephen Appiah by a mile.
Led Ghana to it's first world cup; enviable leadership skills – on and off the pitch, always up and running when called upon etc. https://t.co/frXShZFSXe
— *** (@kelous_) June 6, 2020
From the varied options from social media, it is clear Stephen Appiah is Ghana’s greatest captain in the last 3 decade. A choice or pick I will as well vouch for.
Stephen Appiah epitomizes what it meant to be a leader. He lived and died for the armband, gave his all and redefined the role of captains on and off the pitch.
Appiah’s tenure as captain saw the Black Stars achieve astounding success. He has often been praised for being a unifier. His remarkable leadership skills earned him the name “Capitano”.
This was what the legendary and veteran Sports Journalist Kwabena Yeboah had to say about him:
“I have been around for a while and watched football for decades. I have seen a lot of captains of national teams for decades, but I always stress that the best captain I have met in my entire journalistic life is Capitano, Stephen Appiah. This is a man whose captainship he ensured he did not lord over the players and they reciprocated and no wonder during his tenure, Ghana football was at the pinnacle”, he said.
Appiah may not be the most gifted player to have worn the coveted No. 10 jersey and the captain’s armband in the last 3 decades, but he’s the best captain to wear the No. 10 jersey. He’s Ghana’s best captain in the last 3 decade.