Abedi Pelé, a Ghanaian legend who enchanted Europe with Marseille and Turin

He is considered the strongest Ghanaian ever and has won 3 African Ballon d’Ors: the real Pelé has included him in the FIFA 100.

Was the strongest footballer in the history of Ghana, he played and won in 3 different continents, he conquered, the only one to succeed3 consecutive African Gold Balls, it’s a European Champions League. This would be enough to understand the greatness of Abedi Ayew, universally known for his football skills with the nickname of Abedi Pelé.

If the comparison with O’Rey at first glance may seem disrespectful to the most disrespectful, and certainly goes beyond the brilliant qualities of the Ghanaian playmaker, there is no doubt that what Abedi Pelé represented for his country and for the African continent in general is comparable. to what the number 10 of the Santos constituted for Brazil and South America.


Abedi Pele is born November 5, 1964 in Kibi or Kiebi, capital city of East Akim Municipal District, in Eastern Region of Southern Ghana, on the eastern slopes of the Atewa mountain range, e grows in Dome, Ga East Municipal District, belonging to the Greater Accra region. At least, this is what is officially revealed, although there is no certainty about his real age and very little is known about his childhood, except that at the age of 12 he embarked on a career as a footballer becoming part of a youth formation called Great Falcons.

In 1980 he became a professional footballer at home at the age of 16 with Real Tamale United, team with which he scores in two seasons 21 goals in 46 games and begins to build his fame. A playmaker who can also adapt as a second striker, he has a small physique (he is one meter and 74 centimeters tall for 66 kilograms, considerable technical means (the ball hardly escapes his feet), good speed and a nose for goal.

Summoned still seventeen in the Ghanaian national team for the 1982 Africa Cup of Nations, the Black Stars win theirs in Libya fourth continental title, What will be the first of his career for Abedi Pelé. His fame as a very talented player crossed the borders of the black continent and the playmaker moved in 1982/83 in Qatar to play with the Al-Sadd, formation with which he scores 7 goals in 8 games.

As an authentic football globetrotter, the following year he landed for the first time in Europe, being registered by the Swiss from Zurich, collecting 9 goals in 18 appearances in the Swiss top league and contributing to the salvation of the team. The experience was short, however, because in 1984 Abedi Pelé returned to Africa to wear the Rossoneri jersey AS Dragons of Benin (11 goals) and later Real Tamale United again at home (9 goals).


The turning point in the Ghanaian playmaker’s career, however, came in the 1986-87 season, when, like other great African players, he decided to test himself in French football, accepting the Niort proposal, militant club in Division 2, the French Serie B. With ‘Les chamois’ Pelé explodes, plays at a high level with continuity and scores 12 goals in 34 games. The team closes the year with a brilliant 5th place, and in the summer Abedi Pelé is still the protagonist of the transfer market, with Mulhouse, another Division 2 club, who buys the tag.

Once again Pelé starts strong, showing that the numbers of the previous season were not pure chance. In a few months he scores 5 goals in 16 appearances, enough because in November Olympique Marseille by Bernard Tapie, with whom in about a total year divided into 2 seasons, from November 1987 to October 1988, he made only 9 appearances in Division 1, making his debut in the European Cup (5 appearances) and winning the first French title before being loaned to Lille for two years.


With the Mastini, Abedi Pelé proves to be able to provide a high and constant performance even in Division 1. In the championship he scores 16 goals in 61 appearances, a clear sign that it is now ready in 1990 for return to Marseille as a great protagonist. With OM he creates a winning and fortunate combination, which sees it conquer Division 1 twice more (1990-91 and 1991-92), plus another title that will be revoked due to the match-fixing scandal in which the club will be involved, and take the continental stage in the Champions League.

After giving a sample of his qualities in the double confrontation against the reigning European champions AC Milan in the quarter-finals of the 1990/91 edition, in 1992/93 he raises the Cup to the sky with his ears beating the Rossoneri once again in the final: it is from his feet that he starts the winning corner cross for Boli’s header who slips behind Sebastiano Rossi, giving the first continental title to a transalpine formation.

These are golden years for Abedi Pelé, who was voted for from 1991 to 1993 3 consecutive times African Player of the Year, ends twice in the top 10 of the FIFA World Player (1991 and 1992) and in the national team he cradled the dream of winning the second Africa Cup of his career. He fails because with him disqualified, the Black Stars fall in the final of the 1992 edition, being defeated on penalties by the Ivory Coast despite the OM player being voted the best of the tournament.


The winning cycle at the OM ended with the relegation to the table afterwards 23 goals in 112 games, Abedi Pele chooses to stay in France with the Olympique Lyon, but he lives a season in a minor tone, in which he scores just 3 goals in 29 appearances. To revitalize his career, a new turning point is needed and so the Ghanaian takes the plunge and decides to leave France to move to Serie A with the Turin from Gian Marco Calleri.

He comes with him, always from the OM, and always hired on a free transfer, too strong full-back Jocelyn Angloma. Abedi Pelé chooses to bring a heavy shirt for the garnet colors, the number 10 which belonged to Valentino Mazzola, and honors it with a beautiful season under the Mole.

Athletically put back after the summer training, under the wise guidance of an expert coach like Nedo Sonetti, the Ghanaian also in Italy gives a concrete demonstration of his class and integrates perfectly in an attack that also sees Ruggiero Rizzitelli and Andrea Silenzi.

In grenade Pelé exhibits his lightning-fast dribbling and sensational feats under the net. In its first season scores 10 goals in 32 appearances to which must be added other 4 appearances in the Italian Cup. Among its markings stand out 3 side-by-side, trimmed at home in Brescia, Cagliari and Reggiana, who consecrate him as a fan favorite. In 1994/95 with Pelé regularly on the pitch, Torino also returned to win the Derby, beating Juventus 3-2.

The second season in the shadow of the Mole is negatively marked by the long absence of the playmaker to dispute between January and February the African Cup in South Africa with his national team. The last great number 10 in the history of Turin however, he adds another 18 appearances (17 in Serie A) and 3 goals, all in the league, for a total of 54 appearances and 13 goals. Unfortunately they will not be enough to save Torino, until the end of that season relegated to Serie B.

Abedi Pele, 1860 München, 08161997Getty Images


At 31, Abedi Pelé realizes that he has now embarked on the downward phase of his career and from Italy restarts from 1860 Munich in the Bundesliga. He stayed in Bavaria for two seasons, with negligible results, still scoring 4 goals in 57 games before hearing the call of the Asian continent again and accepting the Al-Ain proposal, club of the United Arab Emirates with which he plays for another two seasons.

Score overall 28 goals in 31 appearances, revealing himself among the best foreigners in the League and hoarding up trophies. In fact he wins in 1999/00 both the UAE Championship, is there President’s Cup, before hanging up his shoes in 2000 at the age of 35. In the national team closes with 33 goals in 73 appearances, after wearing the team captain’s armband for 6 years, from 1992 to 1998.


Posted by Pelé, the true one, in FIFA 100, the list of the greatest 125 living footballers, since 2011 his footprint also appears on the Champions Promenade, the famous promenade along the promenade of the Principality of Monaco, having been awarded to the Ghanaian the Golden Foot.

The one who with Samuel Eto’o and Roger Milla is considered by many to be one of the 3 greatest footballers expressed by African football, in 2007 received a bad disqualification one year, being convicted by the Ghanaian sports justice with accuses him of having bought a game.

Back in Ghana, where he opened a football school, Abedi Pelé founded a new club, Nania FC. To facilitate his rise, he would have favored his promotion to the local Serie A with a large and unlikely success for 31-0 over Okwahu Utd in the post season. Hence the sporting trial and conviction.

Still loved today by his former fans, who remember him fondly, the Ghanaian was also the progenitor of the Ayew dynasty. Like him they have also become professional footballers his brother Kwame Ayew, with a transition from carneade also to Lecce in the nineties of the last century, and above all the sons André Ayew and Jordan Ayew, who have had a decent career in France and England and, unlike their father, have experienced the thrill of playing the World Cup with the national team.

Not having ever played a World Championship is probably the biggest regret of Pelé of Africa.