Former Black Stars captain, Stephen Appiah, was in great company last Saturday when he called time on his distinguished career after his testimonial match which was witnessed by President John Dramani Mahama and former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, the two surviving heads of state during whose regimes the midfielder represented Ghana at different levels.
Last Saturday’s match between the Stephen Appiah XI and the Black Stars at the Accra stadium was also witnessed by over 25,000 fans from all walks of life in a fitting farewell and tribute to the former national captain.
The match appropriately ended 2-2 with the former Accra Hearts of Oak, Udinese, Juventus and Fenerbahce midfielder scoring a memorable goal to the delight of the supporters and teammates, including 2007 African best footballer, Emmanuel Adebayor, four-time African Footballer of the Year, Samuel Eto’o Fils, and Ghanaian-born ex-Dutch international, George Boateng.
Past and present football greats such as Richard Kingson, John Mensah, Samuel Osei Kuffour, Peter Ofori Quaye and Laryea Kingston, featured for the Appiah XI in a clash that ended abruptly midway through the second half.
Before the match, the 34-year-old gem was given a standing ovation by players of both teams and fans as he marched to the pitch with his wife Hannah and three kids.
After a barren first half which saw veteran goalie Kingson being replaced by Sammy Adjei after a clash with Majeed Waris in the opening stages, Appiah opened the scoring in the 53rd minute when he beat Ernest Sowah with a sublime free kick, which brought back fond memories of his hey day.
Black Stars skipper, Asamoah Gyan, who came on as a substitute in the second half, made it 1-1 for the Stars after dribbling through the Appiah XI defence before slotting the ball past Sammy Adjei.
Moments later, Gyan's elder brother, Baffour, who had replaced Adebayor, made it 2-1 for Appiah XI when he finished off a pass inside the box.
A flurry of substitutions by both sides resulted in Appiah leaving the field to a rapturous applause to be replaced by President Mahama's son, Sharaf Mahama, who made a cameo appearance.
Ben Acheampong's equaliser for the Black Stars from an acute angle later on appeared to set the game up for a thrilling finale only for FIFA referee Joseph Lamptey to end the exciting clash prematurely to the surprise of the expectant crowd.
Stephen Appiah Thanks All
An emotional ex-Black Stars captain Stephen Appiah has thanked Ghanaians for the massive show of support during his farewell game at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
Appiah, brought an end to glittering career that saw him represent Ghana at all the various national levels; Starlets, satellites, Meteors and the Black Stars, one of only few Ghanaian players to have chopped such feat.
The 34 year old summoned arguably the highest turn out at the Accra Sports stadium for the first time since Ghana’s quarter final victory over Nigeria in 2008.
The game also saw all living past Presidents of Ghana, grace the event to give their endorsement to a man whose dedication and desire put the name of Ghana on the world footballing map at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
“I wasn’t expecting this crowd but Ghanaians have shown their love and it doesn’t surprise me. Right from my colts days, they have always shown me love and respect and I want to thank all Ghanaians for their love and prayers. Without them I couldn’t have reached this far. I thank them,” Appiah said.
“Well I think the Stephen of today is the same Stephen Appiah 30 years ago. I think what makes us different is our characters. People get a little and they start thinking that they are above everybody but I put my feet down till today and I think that is why everybody is talking.”
“What I want to tell them is they shouldn’t rush in life. They should let the passion come before they start thinking of money. They should respect their elders, respect their coaches, follow instructions and work harder”.
Cameroonian international Samuel Eto and Togolese international Emmanuel Adebayor were amongst a host of football icons who entertained thousand who trooped to the stadium to say farewell to a man they affectionately call “Tornado.”
Source: Daily Graphic/CFM
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