Stephen Leroy Appiah is a retired Ghanaian footballer who played as a midfielder. Appiah was a member of the Ghana national team which he has represented at the youth Olympic and senior levels. He captained Ghana at their World Cup debut in 2006 and was a member of the squad for the 2010 World Cup. He plays with a lot of passion and his presence motivates his colleagues to give their best during matches. Appiah, who was capped 67 times for the Black Stars of which he scored 14 goals, has been an inspiration to the entire Ghanaian youth and beyond. Whether you are a fan of Stephen or not, there are some significant and interesting facts about him that you’ll love to know. Read on to find out.
1. Birth and Early Days
Stephen Appiah was born on 24 December 1980 in Accra, Ghana. He comes from a poor socio-economic background in the Chorkor and Mamprobi suburbs of Accra; he also grew up there. He started playing football informally at a very tender age and joined the Accra Heart of Oaks Team in 1995 at the age of 15. According to the former Juventus star, the Chorkor Kenkey sellers came to his rescue at a time when he could not afford meals after training. After playing at the Under 17 World Cup in Egypt, he signed a transfer to the Udinese club and hence, started off his journey towards world super stardom.
2. He is Nick-Named “Tornado” and a Football Brand is Named After Him
Just like the powerful Michael Essien who was nicknamed “Bison”, Stephen earned the nickname “Tornado” due to the fact that he is very prominent in midfield and is also very strong. Appiah is a box-to-box midfielder who has the ability to create and score goals from all angles with his powerful shots. During Ghana’s third game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Appiah powered in a penalty kick against the United States to send the Black Stars to the second round.
A sports ball brand has been named after the former Blackstars captain. It was produced by the Stephen Appiah Foundation (SAF) in collaboration with Alive & Kicking Ghana (A&K Ghana). It is a new and exciting ball for sale across Ghana. The balls are designed and manufactured by Alive & Kicking Ghana, a charity producing and selling over 1,300 sports balls every month in Accra, and named after the veteran Ghanaian footballer’s nickname, Tornado.
3. He is the First Ghanaian Captain to Qualify the Blackstars for World Cup
In 2005 Stephen Appiah became the first captain to qualify Ghana to their first ever World Cup appearance in Germany in 2006 and also led the Black Stars squad that came close to hitting a semi-final berth at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Appiah is so far, the longest-serving skipper of the Ghana squad after independence, having led the Black Stars for a period of 8 years.
4. Injuries almost Terminated his Career
Appiah was not really able to live his career to the fullest as a result of injuries. He sustained severe injuries several times during his career such that at one of such incidents, his career was almost brought to an abrupt premature end. His career almost ended with Turkish side Fenerbahce and several complicated health issues. A protracted knee injury kept him out of the beautiful game for a very long time until he landed a job with club Bologna.
5. He is a Humanitarian
Appiah is one of the sportsmen in Ghana who are devoted to giving back to the society what the country has given him. His first move towards achieving this was through the establishment of the Stephen Appiah Foundaton. He said the main motivation behind setting up his foundation was the way he sees people suffer in Chorkor, a fishing community in Greater Accra region of Ghana where he grew up. The Foundation was set up to provide care, quality education, health facilities and opportunities through sports to improve the overall wellness for underprivileged children in Ghana, helping them attain their full potential in life.
He went on to build the Stephen Appiah Community library in Chorkor which is the one and only one there serving all ages.
Today in Ghana, Appiah is involved in a variety of charity works focused on giving back to society and inspiring young football players. The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves last year made him their ambassador and recalling how his own mother suffered under unhealthy cooking conditions, he vowed to use his image and influence to help the fight for clean cooking.
6. He Owns a Clothing Line to Support the SAF
Stephen Appiah has designed a clothing line, called StepApp, which was released in late November, 2014 in his hometown of Accra. The proceeds of this business is solely meant to fund his foundation.
7. He Maintained a Clean Lifestyle Throughout his Career
Stephen has a general testimony of being a good citizen of Ghana. He succeeded in earning almost everyone’s commendation and approval both in his career and other life endeavors. He has a lot of testimonies from different personalities both at home and in foreign lands. His various humanitarian acts has in so many ways improved the life of many Ghanaians, including the provision of employment opportunities.
8. He has a very Lovely Family
Football is Stephen Appiah’s passion but his family is his life’s blood. Stephen is married to Hannah and is the proud father of four kids. They are the center of his world and he does everything within his abilities to give them the best of life.
9. He Ended his Professional Football Career with a Testimonial Match
he revealed that amidst his legendary achievements, he still has a regret which is his failure to win a title with the Black Stars, as the Black Stars have not won a trophy since 1982. In an interview prior to the match, he revealed his intentions:
I think Ghanaians have been true to me as in supporting me; they supported me till today that I said I am calling it done so I think I have to give that respect or I have to give back to them in terms of playing a testimonial game to tell them bye bye for their support, for the love that they’ve shown to me. So I think that it’s the right thing to do and definitely there will be a testimonial match.”
The following are the awards he bagged during his time as a professional footballer:
Ghanaian FA Cup: 1996
Ghana League: 1997
Coppa Italia: 2001–02
Supercoppa Italiana: 2003
Serie A: 2004-2005
Serie A: 2005-2006
Turkish Super League: 2006–07
Turkish Super Cup: 2006–07
FIFA U-17 World Championship Winner: 1995
Summer Olympic Football All-Star Team: 2004
Ghana Footballer of the Year: 2005, 2007
Footballer of the Year in Turkey: 2007
African Cup of Nations All-Star Team of the Tournament: 2006