10 Greatest Ghana Players in Football History [Ranked]

Published on: 28 May 2024

Ghana's run to the Quarter-Final of the 2010 World Cup, and ultimate penalty heartbreak, captured the imagination of the African continent and elevated them to a position of substantial prominence within the footballing landscape.

However, 'the Black Stars' have a rich history of producing some outstanding talent over the years, that extends far beyond the famous 2010 team.

Four African Cup of Nations triumphs and several runs to the latter stages of this competition contribute to what is one of the continent's most successful footballing nations. From Michael Essien to the Ayew brothers, there is a long list of players who have forged impressive careers in Europe that have emanated from the West African nation.

GIVEMESPORT have identified the 10 greatest Ghanaian players in history, ranking them based on a number of factors.

Ranking Factors

  • International achievements (honours, appearances, goals, assists, etc)
  • Club achievements (honours, appearances, goals, assists, etc)
  • Individual awards
  • Legacy within football
10 Greatest Ghana Players Ever
Player International Caps
1. Michael Essien 59
2. Abedi Pele 73
3. Tony Yeboah 59
4. Asamoah Gyan 107
5. Andre Ayew 114
6. Samuel Kuffour 59
7. Sulley Muntari 84
8. Kwadwo Asamoah 71
9. Jordan Ayew 90
10. Thomas Partey 45

10 Thomas Partey

Career Span: 2013 - Present

Thomas Partey

Many may point to Thomas Partey's failure to produce for an underwhelming Ghana side over recent years, with the Arsenal man certainly the nation's most talented individual in the current set-up, but he does boast a more impressive domestic career than most Ghanaians. The 30-year-old has won La Liga, and the Europa League, played in a Champions League final and made over 300 appearances for two of Europe's biggest clubs.

Injuries have certainly plagued Partey and perhaps prevented him from fulfilling his potential on a consistent basis, but the former Atletico Madrid player has still been able to display his ability as one of the most accomplished midfielders in the world at his best. His elusive press resistance and quality of progressive passing have been invaluable in aiding Arsenal's improvements in the last two seasons and has occasionally been displayed internationally, allowing him to win Ghana Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018.

Partey's International Career
Ghana Caps 45
Ghana Goals 13
Ghana Honours None

9 Jordan Ayew

Career Span: 2009 - Present


Although he may not flaunt as illustrious a club career as many others on this list, Jordan Ayew's impact on the international stage exceeds most others who have worn the Black Stars shirt. The Crystal Palace forward has made 90 caps for his country, making him the third most capped Ghanaian ever, whilst scoring 19 goals, placing him ninth in the all-time top goalscorers list.

GIVEMESPORT Key Statistic: A total of 25 Ghanaians have played in the Premier League

Ayew has played in two World Cups and five AFCONs, including playing a pivotal role in the 2015 side that reached the final of this competition. Add his international success to his solid, if unspectacular, domestic career which saw serviceable stints at Marseille and Aston Villa, alongside a Ligue 1 triumph, and the 32-year-old undoubtedly deserves his place in the Ghana footballing hall of fame.

J. Ayew's International Career
Ghana Caps 90
Ghana Goals 19
Ghana Honours None

8 Kwadwo Asamoah

Career Span: 2008 - 2022


Not only was Kwadwo Asamoah an ever-present figure in Ghana's 2010 World Cup team, starting every game in the tournament, but he also featured regularly in AFCONs between 2008 and 2013, helping the side reach the Semi-Final or better on four separate occasions. 71 caps for a nation in one of its most successful spells in modern times, the former Juventus star was a staple midfield linchpin alongside Michael Essien for the Black Stars.

Asamoah was a versatile and hard-working defensive midfielder, and this versatility and adaptability meant he was a useful option for a dominant Juventus side in the 2010s. The Kumasi-born man was at the heart of six consecutive Serie A titles and played an integral role in helping the Old Lady reach two Champions League finals.

Overall, a career which included 13 major honours and a prolonged spell in the side for a successful period for his country cannot be overlooked. Asamoah is often ignored in debates around Ghana's greats, but should absolutely be in the conversation.

Asamoah's International Career
Ghana Caps 71
Ghana Goals 4
Ghana Honours None

7 Sulley Muntari

Career Span: 2002 - 2022

Sulley Muntari

Another midfielder who enjoyed huge success in Italy, Muntari played at a similar level to Asamoah and ultimately left a similar legacy on the international stage. However, unlike Asamoah, Muntari lifted the Champions League in 2010 with Inter Milan, an honour that evaded his compatriot.

The ball-winning midfielder was one of the greats of this kind in the mid-2000s, following the likes of Claude Makelele in pioneering this role. He featured consistently for the Black Stars in their various deep exploits in AFCONs and was part of the 2010 World Cup side, albeit playing limited minutes in the tournament due to disciplinary reasons.

Muntari was often praised for the constant improvements he made to his game, adapting superbly with age. This led to a resurgence in his career in the 2010s, where he became an important cog in the AC Milan midfield in his early thirties.

Muntari's International Career
Ghana Caps 84
Ghana Goals 20
Ghana Honours None

6 Samuel Kuffour

Career Span: 1994 - 2009

Samuel Kuffour of Ghana

A player who may not quite have made the impact for Ghana as many have on his list, but whose club achievements are almost unparalleled. Samuel Kuffour spent 10 years at the heart of Bayern Munich's defence, winning 14 major honours, including winning the Champions League in 2001.

In an era where not many Ghanaians were pulling up trees for Europe's very best, Kuffour dominated a Bayern backline with his imperious strength and deceptive pace. While managing a modest 59 caps for his national team, he was part of the first Ghana team to ever qualify for a World Cup in 2006 and was one of the talismanic figures in the team that paved the way for the successful generation that followed.

Kuffour's International Career
Ghana Caps 59
Ghana Goals 3
Ghana Honours None

5 Andre Ayew

Career Span: 2007 - Present

Andre Ayew

The elder brother of Jordan, Andre Ayew is the most capped Ghanaian of all time, playing 114 times for his country. Only five players have scored more goals for the Black Stars than the winger, with this prolific streak coming out in crucial moments in tournaments; Ayew has netted 10 AFCON goals and three World Cup goals.

The former Swansea City forward now captains his nation, is the only player to feature in Ghana's last three World Cups and produced the assist for the winning goal and a man-of-the-match performance in their last 16 victory over the United States in 2010. In terms of international legacy for Ghana, few have as prestigious a CV as the France-born veteran.

To complement this eminent international career, Ayew enjoyed several fruitful seasons for Marseille and various other clubs, managing eight campaigns where he surpassed ten goals across all competitions.

A. Ayew's International Career
Ghana Caps 114
Ghana Goals 24
Ghana Honours None

4 Asamoah Gyan

Career Span: 2003 - 2021


Ghana's second most-capped player and all-time top goal-scorer with 51, Asamoah Gyan was the poster boy of Ghanaian football in the period between 2008 and 2015. Competing with the likes of Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto'o as the most coveted African striker at the time, Gyan holds the record for the most goals scored by a player from this continent at World Cup finals, with six.

Aside from brief spells at Rennes and Sunderland, most of his goal-scoring exploits at domestic level were limited to his efforts in the United Arab Emirates, but the striker's legacy on the international stage was momentous. He led the line during the 2010 run, scoring three goals, including the winner in the last 16 and was instrumental in a number of deep AFCON runs and World Cup qualification campaigns. He'll inevitably be haunted by the missed penalty kick against Uruguay in the Quarter-Final in 2010, but the holistic impact he made for the Black Stars far outweighs that one unfortunate moment.

Gyan's International Career
Ghana Caps 107
Ghana Goals 51
Ghana Honours None

3 Tony Yeboah

Career Span: 1981 - 2002

Tony Yeboah in action for Leeds United

Known for his technical flair and immense physical abilities, Tony Yeboah provided the stardust to the Black Stars during the 80s and 90s, leading the country to an AFCON semi-final and final, as well as two victories in the West African Nations Cup.

In his time at Eintracht Frankfurt and Leeds, Yeboah's exceptional goal-scoring talents bore fruit, managing 15 goals or more in four separate seasons. Arguably, no other Ghanaian forward has replicated this consistent efficiency in front of goal at the highest level of the game.

While the former Hamburg forward may not have the trophies outside of Ghanaian football to justify this position on this list, he reached a technical level that few from the West African nation have ever reached and ultimately, this granted him a cult hero status within the country.

Yeboah's International Career
Ghana Caps 59
Ghana Goals 26
Ghana Honours West African Nations Cup 1986, West African Nations Cup 1987

2 Abedi Pele

Career Span: 1978 - 2000

Abedi Pele in action for 1860 Munich.

Father of Andre and Jordan, Abedi Ayew became known professionally as Abedi Pele, after Brazilian legend Pele. Not only did he officially adopt this name, he also earned the nickname, 'the African Maradona'. Being associated with the likes of Diego Maradona and Pele explains why he is comfortably near the top of this list.

Playing over 70 games for Ghana, winning African Footballer of the Year three times and attaining a Champions League medal with Marseille in 1993, Abedi Pele's career was as illustrious as any. His exceptional dribbling skills earned comparisons to the aforementioned Maradona, and many believe he is the greatest Ghanaian footballer of all time.

Additionally, he's the only player on this list to have won an AFCON, leading his country to its most recent victory in the competition in 1982.

A. Pele's International Career
Ghana Caps 73
Ghana Goals 33
Ghana Honours West African Nations Cup 1982, West African Nations Cup 1983, West African Nations Cup 1984, AFCON 1982

1 Michael Essien

Career Span: 2000 - 2020

Michael Essien

Michael Essien was arguably one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, combining immense physical strength with tactical intelligence and supreme technical ability. Not only could he screen a back four expertly, but his elite athleticism meant he was also able to impact the game much further up the pitch.

While there may be regrets internationally, having only amassed 59 caps for the Black Stars and having missed out on the 2010 World Cup through injury, his domestic career was hugely successful. Essien was a key component in title-winning sides under Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, as well as lifting the Champions League for the Blues in 2012.

Overall, he won 13 major trophies throughout his career and is widely considered to be up there as the greatest Ghanaian footballer of all time, alongside Abedi Pele.

Essien's International Career
Ghana Caps 59
Ghana Goals 9
Ghana Honours None

Source: givemesport.com