Asamoah Gyan has sparked a new sense of life into his game over the last season and will go into the 2010 FIFA World Cup as Ghana’s main attacking hope. Gyan has already proven his big-match pedigree, entering history as the author of Ghana’s first-ever goal at the FIFA World Cup finals – against the Czech Republic in Cologne four years ago. But in between it has been a torrid and frustrating time for Gyan, who recently spoke of his delight at qualifying for a second successive tournament saying to do it twice in a row was all the sweeter. Gyan says he is now fully fit after a litany of injuries sidelined him over the last seasons, at Rennes and before that in Serie A at Udinese. And as proof, he headed to South Africa among the top scorers in France’s Ligue 1.
The 24-year-old started his career at Liberty Professionals in Accra but went with several compatriots to Udinese in Italy in early 2004. The Italian club gave him his Serie A debut as a substitute within weeks of his arrival but then loaned him out to Serie B side Modena for more experience. A total of 15 goals over two seasons saw him brought back to Udinese, where injury retarded his chances, but he still managed 11 goals in 27 starts. Gyan has always had all the assets to be a major star of the future, combining pace with a deadly touch in the penalty area. He is typical of solid west African strikers, with super power in his legs that give his shots explosive acceleration, upper body strength to hassle defenders and a good spring to produce effective combat in the air as well.
He was just five days shy of his 18th birthday when he made his debut for the Black Stars. He was called up by caretaker coach Ralf Zumdick for the start of the qualifying campaign for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and came on as a late substitute in the first leg of the preliminary round clash against Somalia. Within five minutes, Gyan had scored a dream debut goal. During the group phase of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, he got a vital late equaliser against Uganda in the match in Kampala in July, 2004, which saved Ghana from an embarrassing and morale-deflating defeat. He also scored against the Democratic Republic of Congo away from home and in the final qualification match away in the Cape Verde Islands where the Black Stars made sure of their first-ever trip to the FIFA World Cup.
Gyan played in only four of the 2010 qualifiers after coming back from injury but proved his importance as the pivot around which Ghana’s injury-hit side reached the 2010 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola. He also has experience of past FIFA tournaments, having been in Ghana’s side at the 2004 Olympic Football tournament in Athens, where he started all three of the Black Starlets’ matches.
Gyan scored with a penalty in the 85th minute of Ghana’s first match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup against Serbia, which proved to be the deciding goal in a 1–0 win. He went on to hit the post in the 92nd minute before being substituted to a standing ovation just before the final whistle. In Ghana’s second game, he scored a penalty in the 26th minute to level the scores and earn his team a 1–1 draw against Australia.
In the round of 16 match against the U.S.A., he scored a goal in extra time allowing Ghana to win by a score of 2-1 and hence become the third African team in history to qualify to the tournament’s quarter final, after Cameroon and Senegal.