Michael Essien

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Michael Essien
Michael Essien.jpg
0Full Name Michael Kojo Essien
0Date of Birth 3 December 1982
0Place of Birth Accra, Ghana
0Position Midfielder
0Chelsea career 2005 - 2014
0Debut 21 August 2005
0Games (goals) 256 (25)
0Other clubs Bastia
Real Madrid (loan)
AC Milan

Michael Essien (born 3 December 1982 in Accra, Ghana) is a Ghanaian international midfielder who played for Chelsea between 2005 and 2014. A strong, athletic, all-round midfielder; at Chelsea his versatility as a player was put to effective use in various roles. He was often played as a defensive midfielder but was also deployed as a more attacking box-to-box midfielder, a right-sided midfielder and occasionally as a right back and a centre back. He also has a good eye for goal and on occasion scored important, sometimes spectacular goals, often from distance. Voted Chelsea Player of the Year in 2007, he won several major honours at Stamford Bridge and was a key player when fit, however the latter part of his Chelsea career was frequently interrupted with serious injury, with many months spent on the sidelines. He left to join AC Milan in January 2014 having spent eight and a half years at the club, in which he won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the FA Community Shield.


Before Chelsea

Essien 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 considerable attention from European scouts, and he even had a trial at Manchester United in April 2000, playing in the club's youth team's defeat by Derby County.

In July 2000, Essien was signed by French club Bastia. He did not immediately command a regular place in the team, being deployed in various positions in the back four; however, because of an injury to one of his team-mates, he was given a temporary opportunity to play in central midfield, and flourished in this new role. In the 2002-03 season, he helped Bastia to qualify for the UEFA Cup, scoring six goals that season. Following his fine season, Bastia received offers for the Ghanaian from Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon and Marseille. Paris Saint-Germain made Bastia the best offer and it was accepted [1], but Essien rejected the contract offer [2], and instead agreed terms with Lyon, who paid Bastia €7.8 million. At Lyon, Essien played more of a defensive midfield role, featuring regularly in the Lyon team that won the third and fourth of their ongoing string of consecutive Ligue 1 titles. He was also voted the 2005 Player of the Year by France's National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) [3]. He was also nominated for the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year Award. He placed 22nd in 2005.

Chelsea career


On 14 August 2005, Lyon and Chelsea agreed a £26 million fee for the Ghanaian, after protracted negotiations [4]. At the time, the fee made Essien Chelsea's most expensive signing of all time, beating the £24 million they paid for Didier Drogba the previous summer. The transfer went through on 19 August [5].

He made his debut as a second half substitute against Arsenal on 21 August 2005. He made an assist in his full debut against West Bromwich Albion, and he replaced the injured Claude Makélélé in the defensive midfield role against Sunderland in a 2-0 win on 10 September 2005. He soon cemented his place in José Mourinho's side, starting in 31 domestic league games, and 11 appearances in the other cup competitions.

On 15 December 2005, he was handed a two-match ban by UEFA for a controversial tackle on Dietmar Hamann, which resulted in his suspension from Chelsea's UEFA Champions League second round tie with eventual European champions Barcelona [6]. Essien apologised to Hamann for the challenge – stating while he desires to be perceived as a player who "unsettles" opponents, he was not a malicious or an unsporting player. Hamann publicly accepted Essien's apology. In January 2006, Essien was himself stretchered off the field, after a challenge from West Ham United's captain Nigel Reo-Coker, and was sidelined for three weeks. Essien scored his first goal for Chelsea in 11 March 2006, in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. His second goal came on 17 April 2006, against Everton with a powerful strike after an assertive burst through the defensive line. Essien ended his maiden season in England with two goals, both in the Premier League.

Essien was later nominated for the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year Award on 12 October 2006 where he placed 22nd. One week later, he was nominated for the 2006 Ballon d'Or. He was voted in the top three for African Footballer of the Year in 2006, having also made the final three in 2005 [7], and won the 2006 BBC African footballer of the year award [8].

The following season Essien scored several important goals including his first UEFA Champions League goal for Chelsea in a 2–0 victory over Werder Bremen on 12 September 2006. Later in the competition, Essien scored a late winner in the quarter-final second leg against Valencia at the Mestalla to send Chelsea through to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory on the night, and 3-2 win on aggregate. It was his first match back in the team after several weeks out with a knee injury. Essien also scored a stunning late equaliser at home against Arsenal on 10 December 2006, to save Chelsea's long unbeaten run.

On 15 May 2007, Chelsea fans voted Essien as Chelsea Player of the Year for his contributions in the 2006-07 season [9], 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.

On 13 August 2007, Essien grabbed the winner with his first goal of the campaign, as Chelsea defeated Birmingham City, to set an English record for unbeaten league matches at home – eclipsing Liverpool's previous top-flight record of 63 set between 1978 and 1981. On 10 October 2007, he was nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award [10], and on 21 October 2007 Essien was nominated for the 2007 Ballon d'Or, both for the third consecutive year. He was voted 15th Best Player in the World at the 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year Awards. On 12 December 2007, Essien was nominated for the 2007 African Footballer of the Year, also a third consecutive time he had been nominated [11]. He was runner-up to that year's winner Frédéric Kanouté. On 22 July 2008, Essien signed a new five-year deal with Chelsea, keeping him at the club until 2013 [12].


Early in the 2008-09 season it was feared that Essien would miss the entire season through injury, after sustaining anterior cruciate ligament damage on 5 September 2008 whilst playing for Ghana. However, on 7 March 2009 he came on as a substitute in the second half of the FA Cup game against Coventry City. In his second game back from the knee injury, just before half time, Essien scored to give Chelsea a vital away-goal versus Juventus in the Champions League round of 16. Chelsea went on the draw the match 2-2 and through to the quarter-finals 3-2 on aggregate. He made his first league start since returning from injury against Manchester City, and scored the only goal in the match.

On 6 May 2009, Essien scored a stunning left-footed volley in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, a tie which Chelsea ultimately lost due to the away goal rule, controversially after at least four penalty appeals were rejected [13]. The goal was later voted 2008-09 goal of the season by Chelsea fans.

Double Parade 16 May 2010

In the 2009-10 season Essien put in an excellent performance against Blackburn Rovers on 24 October 2009 and scored his first goal of the season with a swerving 35-yard shot on 52 minutes. He scored his first brace for Chelsea against Wolves with a header and a low shot from outside the box, and came close to completing his first hat-trick for the club with a flurry of second half shots, one of which was tipped onto the bar by Wolves goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. In January 2010 Essien was once again injured on international duty, during the 2010 African Nations Cup, and missed the rest of the English domestic season. His fourteen league appearances in the first half of the season earned him a Premier League winners' medal, his second league title at Chelsea.

Essien fully recovered from the long-term injury that had ruled him out for the second half of the 2009-10 season, and the 2010 World Cup, in time for the start of the season. He scored the only goal of the game in a pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace, and opened his goalscoring account for the season proper with a brace against West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground in a 3-1 win; both goals coming from headers. Essien opened the scoring in Chelsea's next match, a 4-1 away win against MŠK Žilina as the Blues opened their Champions League campaign with an emphatic victory. The Ghanaian played well over the following weeks, but was controversially sent off for a late tackle in the dying seconds of a 1-0 victory against Fulham, having earlier scored what would prove to be the only goal of the game. Essien then missed two months with an injury, a period that coincided with a serious slump in form for his side. The midfielder returned to play in the penalty shoot-out loss against Everton in the FA Cup 4th Round, but failed to recover his form for the remainder of what was an ultimately disappointing season for his club.


Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, Essien once again suffered a serious knee injury; the Ghanaian rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in training. The injury required an immediate operation, and was expected to keep him out for six months. [14] Essien made his first appearance of the season on 14 Janaury 2012, as a second half substitute in a 1-0 home win against Sunderland; his 150th Premier League appearance. He made eleven starts over the remainder of the season, in addition to a total of 8 substitute appearances, but failed to fully regain his form after his long lay-off. Deemed surplus to requirements at the start of the 2012-13 season, Essien was loaned to Real Madrid for the season, re-joining former manager José Mourinho, who had brought him to Chelsea in 2005.

When Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge ahead of the 2013-14 season he reinstalled Essien in the Chelsea first team squad, though he was not named in the UEFA Champions League squad. His power and athleticism had clearly been curtailed by his serious knee injuries, but he remained a useful squad player, particularly after Marco van Ginkel had been lost to injury early in the season; the Ghanaian often named as a substitute while making occasional appearances. He endured a nightmare match on 1 December 2013 however; his ill-judged backpass gifting Southampton the lead after 13 seconds. His confidence was clearly affected as a hesitant performance followed and he was replaced at half time. Chelsea recovered to win the match 3-1, with three goals in the second half. Recognising this performance as something of an aberration, Mourinho continued to use the midfielder, starting him in a home match against Crystal Palace two weeks later, with more game time following in subsequent weeks. On 24 January 2014 reports emerged that Essien was set to join AC Milan. The move was confirmed on 27 January. [15]

Although the latter part of his career at the Bridge was hindered by the effects of serious injury, Essien had played a key role in the most successful period of Chelsea's history to date, winning multiple trophies at the club. His power and quality in midfield was an important factor in much of the club's success during his time in west London. Notable goals, inlcuding his stunning equaliser against Arsenal in 2006, his last-minute goal against Valencia in 2007 that sent Chelsea into the Champions League semi-finals and his long-range volley against Barcelona in a Champions League semi-final that the Blues were very unfortunate not to win will all be remembered fondly by Chelsea fans, along with less spectacular but equally important performances such as his nullification of Steven Gerrard in a 3-1 win at Anfield in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2009.


Essien's International career started with the Ghana U-17 National team, the Black Starlets, when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 Championship in New Zealand and won the Bronze medal. In 2001, even though he was one of the youngest players in the tournament, Essien took part in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship with the Black Satellites in Argentina. The Satellites finished runners-up to hosts Argentina. His exceptional performances captured the attention of many and was widely tipped to be one of Africa's next rising stars. He made his competitive senior debut in the 2002 African Nations Cup against Morocco on 21 January 2002. but had played for Ghana in a Pre-Tournament friendly against Egypt on 4 January 2002.

On 16 May 2006, Essien was selected in the team to represented Ghana at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Ghana were the only African team to reach the second round of the 2006 World Cup, however Essien was suspended for Ghana's second round match against Brazil and could only watch as Ghana lost 3-0. In the 2008 African Cup of Nations Essien turned in another brilliant performance, driving the team to the semi finals. In the quarter-final against Nigeria, when team captain John Mensah was dismissed on the stroke of the hour for a professional foul on Nigeria's Peter Odemwingie, Essien took over the captaincy for the rest of the game and eventually won 2-1. He was voted as an All-Star Player during the 2008 African Cup of Nations Tournament in Ghana.

During an international match played against Libya on 5 September 5 2008 Essien ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament playing for Ghana in the World Cup qualification stage and was out of action for 6 months, missing the majority of the 2008-09 season, before returning on 4 March to play for Chelsea Reserves against Aston Villa Reserves. It was announced on 27 May 2010 that Essien would miss the 2010 World Cup after he was told that he would not fully recover from his knee injury until the end of July 2010.


See also: List of Michael Essien goals
Season Prem FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2005-06 31 2 4 0 1 0 6 0 0 0 42 2
2006-07 33 2 5 1 6 1 10 2 1 0 55 6
2007-08 27 6 2 0 4 0 12 0 1 0 46 6
2008-09 11 1 3 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 19 3
2009-10 14 3 0 0 1 0 6 1 1 0 22 4
2010-11 33 3 2 0 0 0 8 1 1 0 44 4
2011-12 14 0 3 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 19 0
2012-13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2013-14 5 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 9 0
Total 168 17 20 1 15 1 49 6 4 0 256 25

Career honours




Player of the Year
1967: Bonetti | 1968: Cooke | 1969: Webb | 1970: Hollins | 1971: Hollins | 1972: Webb | 1973: Osgood | 1974: Locke
1975: Cooke | 1976: Wilkins | 1977: Wilkins | 1978: Droy | 1979: Langley | 1980: Walker | 1981: Borota | 1982: Fillery
1983: Jones | 1984: Nevin | 1985: Speedie | 1986: Niedzwiecki | 1987: Nevin | 1988: Dorigo | 1989: Roberts
1990: Monkou | 1991: Townsend | 1992: Elliott | 1993: Sinclair | 1994: Clarke | 1995: Johnsen | 1996: Gullit
1997: Hughes | 1998: Wise | 1999: Zola | 2000: Wise | 2001: Terry | 2002: Cudicini | 2003: Zola | 2004: Lampard
2005: Lampard | 2006: Terry | 2007: Essien | 2008: J.Cole | 2009: Lampard | 2010: Drogba | 2011: Čech | 2012: Mata
2013: Mata | 2014: Hazard
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