The captain of Ghana’s national team, the Black Stars, has announced his retirement from international football.
In a statement posted to his official Twitter page, Asamoah Gyan said “I wish to recuse myself from the [AFCON] tournament]. I also wish to retire from the national team permanently; not pretending my presence would not fuel the purported undermining the country has seen under my captaincy.”
The 33-year-old who was in line to lead the Black Stars at the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament which is set to begin in July in what many had speculated would be his last major competition with the squad.
Sources close to the team had told citisportsonline.com that head coach, Kwesi Appiah was set to name his 30-man provisional team for the tournament on Tuesday, with Gyan seen as a nailed on call-up, particularly in light of his recent form.
The striker has scored three goals in his last two games for Kayserispor, his current side in Turkey.
However, in the statement, the player also recused himself from the consideration for selection ahead of the tournament suggesting that although he would be in the squad for the AFCON, he would have been stripped of the captaincy.
“Upon consultations with my family and team, and as an active footballer and captain of the national team, if the decision of the coach is to give captaincy of the tournament to another player while I am named in the team of the tournament, I wish to recuse myself from the tournament.”
Gyan expressed his frustration with this apparently limited role he was to play with the squad at the AFCON, stating that captains of the national team before him had never had to relinquish the captaincy despite being in the squad.
“As an active footballer yet to retire, I have been in the team since 2003 and have played with some members of the technical team who were my seniors. Through such periods, there were no times substantive captains were part of a team in a tournament and had to surrender their captaincy to other players and served in different capacities. Mr. Richard Kingson and Stephen Appiah would be in the best position to understand this.”
The player added the last few years as captain of the Black Stars under head coach, Kwesi Appiah, have been the “proudest moments” in his career.
He also spoke of his support of the coach during “difficult times” at the 2014 World Cup and of the team financially “when the need rose”
Gyan made his international debut in November 2003 as a 17-year-old and has gone on to make over 100 appearances for the senior team, scoring 51 goals, the most scored by a player in the country’s history.
Asamoah Gyan was also the first player in history to score at eight successive major tournaments, eventually scoring in nine straight competitions after netting at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, 2008 AFCON, 2010 AFCON, 2010 FIFA World Cup, 2012 AFCON, 2013 AFCON, 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2015 AFCON and the 2017 AFCON
How will this affect the Black Stars?
Despite recent injury troubles and a struggle to get game time, Gyan remains the country’s most potent goalscorer.
A number of his 51 goals have come in key games for the Black Stars in major competitions including previous editions of the AFCON and the World Cup.
He scored the first goal in Ghana’s must-win group game against the Czech Republic at the 20o6 World Cup and netted three goals, including the winner against the USA as the Black Stars reached the quarterfinals.
Ghana has over the years struggled to replace his goals in the squad despite calling up different strikers.
While his legs might not be the same as they were a few years ago, Gyan’s eye for goal and his experience meant that he remained crucial to the Black Stars chances of finally ending their AFCON drought.
His absence, the first time in a while that Gyan will not be at a major tournament, will be a big blow to the Black Stars.
Who could be the new captain?
The first name that jumps to mind is Andre Ayew. It has been speculated that the relationship between the two players soured over time following a tussle over the captaincy.
A number of senior personalities including the Asantehene have publicly called on the two players to ignore the negative publicity over the captaincy and focus on the national team.
Ayew has had a few stints as captain but only when Asamoah Gyan is not in the team.
Another name that has generated buzz with regards to the Black Stars captaincy is Thomas Partey.
The Atletico Madrid midfielder is arguably the Stars’ best player currently.
He has grown in terms of importance to the team and given his drive and goals, the captaincy could be the X-Factor to take him, (and the Black Stars) to the next level.