Sports News of Sunday, 28 June 2015
Former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah scored from a trademark free kick to officially end his football career in his testimonial match before a packed Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
The 34-year-old hosted a wide range of world football stars to a two-day event to bid his final farewell to the sport that won him so many admirers.
Appiah emerged from the Accra Sports Stadium tunnel – hand in hand with his wife and four kids – filled with emotions that was best expressed by tears from his eyes as he waved the cheering crowd before a game between his select side and the Black Stars.
The former Juventus man had former Ghana Presidents Jerry Rawlings and John Kuffour and incumbent John Dramani Mahama amongst some of the dignitaries in the stands to witness the final game of the ‘Tornado’.
The likes of Samuel Eto’o, Emmanuel Adebayor and Guiseppe Colucci lined up alongside Appiah against the Black Stars in a game full of excitement which ended 2-2.
Appiah who used to play regularly at the Accra Sports Stadium for the national team and during his brief stay with Hearts of Oak scored the game’s opening goal off a trademark free kick moments into the second half.
The highly entertaining first half, with the most ball possessed player being Emmanuel Adebayor had failed to produce a goal.
But Appiah reminded many of how good he was from such situations – curling in a beauty to beat Ernest Sowah who had come on for Razak Brimah.
The game had however started on a sour note as veteran goalkeeper Richard Kingson had to be replaced after going down injured following a heroic save.
Sammy Adjei took his position amidst he cheers from the crowd who recounted an incident during the duo’s time with the Black Stars where Kingson will just not go off for Adjei to have a piece of the action.
And though Samuel Eto’o was enterprising to watch with his sweet movements upfront, his finish that made him so formidable in world football during his prime had clearly deserted him.
Asamoah Gyan however came off the bench to equalize from the Black Stars – finishing off a good solo move.
His elder brother, who also came on for the opposing side etched Stephen Appiah’s XI back into the lead – tapping in a loose ball in the area.
But Ben Acheampong ensure the game finished even with a strike moments before referee Joseph Wellington blasted his whistle to signal the end of not only the game but also the end of a career of an illustrious son of the nation.
Appiah will be fondly remembered for his unique leadership skills that saw the Black Stars qualify for their first ever World Cup finals in 2006.
The former Fernabahce star led the side to qualify for the 2010 World Cup where the Black Stars came within a whisker of making the semi-finals.
Appiah called it quit on the international level but will go on to be active in his club career for two more years before finally announcing his retirement from active football in January 2015.