Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Ghanaian legend Abedi Ayew speaks out about his successful sons.
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Ghanaian legend Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew is usually reluctant to talk about his footballer children: Andre, Jordan and Ibrahim. Although he says he does not want to put pressure on the trio, once the topic in broached, his eyes light up and he beams with pride.
Pele’s reaction is understandable. While his second son Andre is proving to be star in the FIFA 2010 World Cup, Ibrahim is on the bench in the Ghana set up. Teenager Jordan, who Pele ranks above the other two, has just been promoted to the main team of French giants, Marseille.
“People keep asking the same question, but it’s always difficult to talk about your own sons,” he says. “I think it’s a mixed feeling to go the stadium to watch your son playing. You pray that everything goes well, but you also have your doubts that maybe things will not go well.
“You have that mixed feeling, but at the end of the day, if he wins a man of the match while you at the stadium, you are so happy that you can’t even express your feelings.”
Despite being named Africa’s best player on three occasions, Abedi has never played in a World Cup final. However, one of his sons has more than made up for it.
“The wish of every parent is to see that his children are even better than him or her,” he says. “If you bring a son up, you pray that he should be able to go university and even become a president of the country; then you know you’ve done something.
“But if your son is as equal as you, then you’ve not achieved anything. So I pray that he even surpasses me twenty million times so that I would know I have achieved something better.”
For the youngsters to surpass his impressive record, Abedi knows they would require some parental polishing and guidance. He’s just glad that they are on that path.
“If you are 20 years-old and you are able to win the U-20 World Cup, go to the African Cup of Nations final, and now you are among the best players at the World Cup, then we can only pray that the sky is the limit,” he says of Andre, one of the best players in Black Stars camp.
“We have to just keep on advising him that he should have his feet on the ground and be level headed. Then we will see where God takes him.”
As a soccer legend-cum-father to promising youngsters, Abedi is well aware of the influential role he can play in his son’s journey to greatness. He knows, though, that he can’t rest in his role as father and adviser.
“It’s always difficult to say what we have been talking about, but one thing we always tell him is to try not to have a big head. We always urge him to be as simple as he can be,” he says.
“When you are simple and you take yourself as anybody else then the people will raise you up, and that is how a star should behave. You are a star for the same people who make you a star. So you have to be on the same level with those people so that the communication between you and those people would be common, and it would be nice, and then they would raise you to the sky.”
Ghana have been Africa’s best-performing representatives at the 2010 World Cup and Abedi insists that the Black Stars have a chance to tread where no African team has walked before – the semi-finals.
“Ghana should just win [against Uruguay] no matter whether they play bad or good. What I am looking for is Ghana winning and then we look forward,” he says.
Drawing inspiration from the Black Starlets’ success at the 2010 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt, Pele maintains that the Ghanaians have it within them to go as far as possible in South Africa finals.
“It’s not written anywhere that the trophy is for Brazil or Spain. It’s just there for everybody who is participating and we all have equal chances,” he says.
“Who could dream that Ghana was going to win the U-20 World Cup in Egypt and against mighty Brazil with ten men? This is football.”
The 2010 event in South Africa was been heralded as the continent’s best opportunity to stamp its authority on world football. However, all but one of Africa’s six representatives have dropped at the first hurdle, and while many pundits have blamed the misery on poor administration, Abedi decides to sit on the fence.
“I would not like to say anything about them [other African teams] because one, I am not in their camp and am also not in the same country [as them] so I don’t know what they did well and what they did wrong,” he says.
Abedi, however, concedes that the continent has some great teams who could have made a difference. “I know that we have super powers in the continent like Ivory Coast, Nigeria and even Algeria. These are strong teams, but on this day they didn’t show up. May be 2010 was Ghana’s year.”