Michael Kojo Essien is a former Black Stars footballer who currently plays for Indonesian side, Persib Bandung. He is particularly a household name in Chelsea F.C.; this is as a result of his almost a decade commitment to the club.
Michael Essien is a player who has often been lauded as a box-to-box midfielder due to his tough tackling style and his ability to exert energy in supporting offensive and defensive play.
While the foregoing captures the very conspicuous facts about him; there are more lesser-known facts about the Ghanaian footballer.
12 Lesser Known Facts About Michael Essien
1. He started his football career with the Liberty Professionals
Michael who was born on December 3rd, 1982 began his football career after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, playing in a local club in his native Ghana called Liberty Professionals. He broke through when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. This led to attention from some European scouts, and since then, he has played for the following clubs: Bastia, Olympic Lyonnais, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Milan, Panathinaikos, and currently Persib.
2. His father was also a footballer
Michael’s dad, James Essien played football for The Gold Coast in his youthful days. Even Michael’s late elder brother was also a footballer before his accidental and premature death. It could, therefore, be said that football runs in the Essien’s family.
3. He is Nicknamed “Bison”
Looking at how soft-spoken and shy Essien is when he is not playing, one would hardly believe he is the same person when in the field. Essien’s field forcefulness and tough tackling styles earned him the nickname “Bison”, the name of a large and very energetic buffalo-like terrestrial animal. He once commented on this saying:
“I don’t know why I change like that when I play. Off the pitch, I am completely different and the club staff has to chase me to move.”
4. He has Dual Citizenship
Michael’s 5-year football business in France earned him a French citizenship. He spent these five years playing for Bastia (2002-2003), and Lyon (2003-2005). His performances while playing for Olympique Lyonnais resulted in him being voted the 2005 Player of the Year by France’s National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP).
He also helped Lyon to reach the quarter-finals of the 2004-05 UEFA Champions League where he put in dynamic performances and scored five goals in the tournament.
5. He is from a Broken Home
Michael Essien was about two years old when his parents broke up. He, along with his siblings was taken and brought up by their mother. This completely estranged his father to him. He is, however, very close to his mother. He always emphasizes how supportive his mum has been to him, especially in his football career. He described her as the “Pillar behind Him”.
6. His father disowned him for neglect earlier before his demise
Michael’s dad, James Essien, a frail old unhealthy pauper, for the past years, has complained that he had been abandoned and neglected by his son. And for that reason, he seriously insists that Michael drop the surname, Essien. That’s his father’s house in the photo above. Isn’t that pathetic? Hear the poor old man:
“I will go all out to ensure that he stops using my name… Even if I have to drag him to the law courts, I will do that… I have been ill for over a year now. It is Kyeremeh (Berekum Chelsea board chairman) who takes care of me, and I see no point in him continuing to bear my name.
“I have not seen him for the past 15 years and I have not spoken to him for the past six years because I do not even have his number, let alone contact him…” James Essien told Happy FM, an Accra-based private radio station.
However, Michael denied this allegation, saying he takes care of his dad by sending him money on a monthly basis, takes care of his medical bills, has built him a house and bought him a car. Unfortunately, the man died not so long after.
7. He is the first African to be voted Chelsea Player of the Year
On 15 May 2007, Chelsea fans voted Essien as Chelsea Player of the Year, for his contributions in the 2006–07 season, becoming the first African to receive the honor. His late dramatic equalizing goal against Arsenal was also voted as Chelsea Goal of the Season for 2006–07.
8. His Net Worth is $35 million
As of 2014, Essien’s salary stood at 2.5 million Euro. With a net worth of 35 million US Dollars, he remains one of the richest and most highly paid African footballer.
9. Michael dated Nadia Buari
Michael Essien had a no-secret relationship with fair-skinned Ghanaian Actress, Nadia Buari. It was so glaring that every Dick and Harry thought it was going to lead to something meaningful, but he suddenly left her for no clearly stated reasons.
10. He married a Ghanaian Celebrity Publicist
Essien tied the knot with his publicist girlfriend, Akosua Puni in a secret wedding held in London in late 2014 after he reportedly broke up with Ghanaian actress Nadia Buari. Puni is Michael’s Charity Foundation manager/PRO. They are already blessed with two kids, a boy, and a girl. He has tried as much as possible to shield his new family from excessive public attention.
11. He turned down an offer to play for West Brom and QPR
Michael Essien once snubbed a move to QPR – as he could not stomach playing for Chelsea’s west London rivals. The former Blues star also turned down West Brom as he seeks a new club in Europe. He spent close to a decade with Chelsea before joining AC Milan.
12. He Owns a Charity Foundation
The Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) is a local Ghanaian NGO which he established in 2014. It aims to create opportunities and hope for the underprivileged in the Awutu Breku area and beyond. The goal of the MEF is to promote basic community amenities and opportunities for various groups through different projects and activities.