Ghana’s own prodigal son : Asamoah ”baby jet” Gyan

He made the decision. The people protested. Expressing misgivings, not only based on his decision per se, but based on the ‘tangibility’ of the reason for that decision. Asamoah Gyan, in his career,has more often than not been under the torturing spotlight as a target for a wide range of psychologically damaging insults(Most especially at CAN 2008). But the intensity of the very recent insults ‘bombardment’ penetrated what he thought was thick skin. It was too much to shake off, too grave to sneeze at.

His penalty miss against Zambia had basically cost Ghana a place in the final, and a possible chance to win it and fulfill a whole nation’s dream of winning the tournament for the first time in over three decades. The coincidental occurence of a chronological chain which started with a disappointing 3rd place finish in Ghana during CAN 2008,to a second place in Angola during CAN 2010, made winning CAN 2012 an almost natural progression. The people of Ghana couldn’t care less about it being merely a dream, they were almost sure it was what was supposed to happen.

That is why most Ghanaians just couldn’t deal with /accept the fact that we did not win, and that it was all down to our very own ‘baby jet'(which is debatable). And so Ghanaians, out of conspicuous frustration which grossly blinded our objectivity, rained insults on the poor man. At that moment, it almost seemed as if Gyan had never even done anything commendable for Ghana(which obviously is not the case). It got to the man. And especially at a time when he had settled in on loan at a club (Al Ain, UAE) who were embellishing his pay check with oodles of dollars, it made the decision to ‘take an indefinite break’ from his National duties a little easy. He needed to refresh, relax, regroup etc etc. To stay away from all the heat Ghanaians had subjected him to.

Of course Ghanaians saw this as ‘adding salt to injury’. They felt he was being ‘cheecky’ ‘childish’ ‘ungrateful’ ‘unmanly’ etc etc. And so it became a case of leaping from the frying pan into the fire. But Asamoah Gyan remained resolute. He stuck to his decision : which opened the floodgates to more and more abuse. But he was gone.

And so the endless Baby Jet debate began in earnest. The football community in Ghana, from administrators to media men, right down to the fans became heavily polarized. There was the school of thought that firmly believed(still believe perhaps) that Gyan, by his decision, had drawn a battle line : had turned his back on his nation, and so they ‘hated’ him and refused to entertain not even the slightest thought of a possible return. And of course there were(is) the Asamoah Gyan loyalists who felt that it was just unfortunate and ‘unlucky’ that he had messed up the Nation’s hopes yet again, and so he did not deserve to undergo that degree of abuse. They battled their opponents, arguing that it was rather ungrateful on our part as fans to not welcome him ‘with open arms’ should he decide to return. It became a really sensitive debate, brewing with passion.

 Unlike the KP Boateng saga, it was definitively two sided, which created an avenue for verbal conflict eruptions. You were(are) either for or against Asamoah Gyan. Ghanaians mean business with their football. And especially with the emergence to prominence of some fine goal poachers in Emmanuel Baffoe and Emmanuel Clottey, both local players, the anti-Gyan movement’s voice heightened. ”We don’t need him anymore. After all we have quality local strikers who can do the job if called upon” ”He can stay away for all we care” ”Bye bye Asamoah Gyan”.

It finally erupted, seriously, when in the full glare of the nation, Berekum Chelsea’s Emmanuel Clottey bagged a memorable hat trick vs Zamalek in an African Champions League Group Game in Accra. That was his 9th goal in the competition, which is jaw dropping by all standards. It was almost certain that the majority of Ghanaians had defected and joined the anti-Gyan movement, echoing emphatically that in Clottey, Ghana had found gold(which basically meant ”to hell with Gyan,if he won’t,someone will”). It was almost as if the anti-Gyan activists had obtained a commanding majority.We had beaten Lesotho 7-0 without him, and lost to Zambia without him, and so this third phenomenom so to speak seemed to have basically settled things. But there was to be a sting in the tale.

The Baby Jet decided to return.

And so now, it’s basically back to square one. The pro-Gyan movement has re-emerged to match their fellows on the other side. Asamoah returns, hopefully more relaxed and rejuvenated : which will do him a lot of good in facing the media circus that’ll greet his arrival. The abuse will rear up it’s head again, surely, as many will try to resist his re-incorporation into the squad. But it will all be basically up to him to slot back in and shut up his critics up and neutralize the debate; Up to him to prove he’s resolute, grounded, focused and tough. At this rate, it’s a two way affair: Either Gyan rises up to the challenge and ‘murder’ the debate, or get swallowed by it’s raging pressure.

I hope he’s up for it. I really do.

Fiifi Anaman.( @fiifianaman )
July 12, 2012.