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Asamoah Gyan - Goals, Glory and Controversies

It has been a typical Asamoah Gyan week ... he hit a major landmark, then took the shine off himself with one act.

In a Black Stars career that has spanned 14 years, no player has done more to thrill, annoy, win hearts, lose many, and confound us the way he has ... and continues to do.

When Gyan met Thomas Agyepong's cross at the near post to put Ghana in front in the 2019 Nations Cup qualifier against Ethiopia on Sunday, it was the 50th time he had scored for the senior national team. He knew the significance immediately, and so did his immediate friends and family.

In a section of the crowd, they pulled on their special T-shirts celebrating the landmark, but the bigger surprise was yet to come. When Gyan was substituted midway through the second half, he went with the captain's armband; a customised one with his photo.

It meant deputy captain Andre Ayew had to pick up a new one from the bench. It also meant Gyan played into the hands of conspiracy theorists who have been saying at every opportunity lately that he is feuding with Ayew over the Black Stars captaincy.

He denies the claims, and has wondered what the fuss is all about: "Instead of talking about bands, we should be talking about a team that won 5-0 and a landmark 50th goal," he fumed.

Gyan is right. The larger conversation should have been about a superb display, and that in many ways has taken place. And we should also be having a deeper conversation about his landmark goal. But the fact that conversation has been dwarfed by talk of a captain's armband is down to his own poor judgement. That is in keeping with his own international career so far. 

Asamoah Gyan scored his 50th international goal against Ethiopia
Asamoah Gyan scored his 50th international goal against Ethiopia

However, that should not take away from a moment that should be celebrated. The 50th goal at the Baba Yara Stadium, the same venue where he scored his first against Somalia in 2003, entrenches Gyan as the leading Ghanaian goalscorer at international level.

It puts him in esteemed company on the African continent as well, with Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o and the Egyptian great Hossam Hassan among the other African players to have scored half-a-century of goals. 

Gyan scored his 50 goals in 103 appearances spread over a 14-year career. Six of those goals have come in three World Cups, more than any African. He has scored eight of those goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, level with Andre Ayew for a Ghanaian player.

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In many countries his legend will be complete, but not in Ghana - and that is thanks, in part, to his own doing.

The reaction to the armband issue shows just how much of a divisive character he still is in the eyes of many. When some see goals and an international career worth celebrating, others see a man who never delivers when it matters most.

So instead of remembering his remarkable show of strength and superb finish to score his third goal of the 2010 World Cup against USA that took Ghana through to the quarterfinals, others focus on the penalty miss that denied the Black Stars and Africa the opportunity to have a semifinalist for the first time.

That moment didn't break him. Seven years on from that he has added to the goals, to the legend and, inevitably, to the controversy that follows him everywhere.


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