Ghana’s record achiever Andre Ayew lives in father’s shadow

Published on: 08 November 2022

Ghana captain Andre Ayew is heading to an extraordinary 10th major tournament and has won a record tally of caps for his country, yet he still lives in the shadow of his father.

A career that started as a teenage prodigy, taking in stints at Olympique de Marseille, Swansea City, West Ham United and Fenerbahce, and first playing international football 15 years ago, has set new standards for Ghana football.

But Ayew, and younger brother Jordan who plays at Crystal Palace, continue to be compared with the achievements of father Abedi Pele, a three-time African Footballer of the Year and European Cup winner.

It is something the brothers have been unable to shake off.

“What was difficult was people always talking about my dad and what he had done, always wanting to see him in me,” forward Ayew said in an interview more than a decade ago.

“When I decided to try to make a life in football, I knew what would be waiting.”

But now, with a substantial career of his own under his belt, he looks to have embraced his father's fame.

“I take a lot, if not every, inspiration from him,” said Ayew in a recent appearance on Ghanaian television when the subject of his father came up yet again.

Abedi Pele -- widely considered one of the continent’s finest footballers -- was in the Marseille side that won the European Cup in 1993 but never went to a World Cup. Son Andre is heading into his third in Qatar, on top of seven Cup of Nations finals appearances.

Ayew, who will turn 33 the day before the World Cup final and now plays his club football for Qatari champions Al Sadd, first played for Ghana in August 2007, in a friendly against Senegal in London where he came on for the final minute of the game.

Some seven months later, he was starting for the Black Stars in a Cup of Nations semi-final and has been a steady feature since.

His tally of 107 caps is a record for the country.

He had toyed briefly with playing for France, where he was born while his father was playing at Lille, and ran out for their under-18 team, but that was a short-lived idea.

Instead Ayew, known as ‘Dede’, has been at the heart of the Ghana team for well over a decade, contributing with his left foot, strong centre of gravity and ability to shrug off defenders, and looking to forge his own path, while also paying homage to his heritage.