It’s not just about what the players do on the pitch, their actions and lifestyles off the pitch have also become newsworthy.
It is, therefore, common for a footballer to make international headlines and, in 2021, there were quite a number of Ghanaian footballers who made international headlines for various reasons.
We bring you six Ghanaian players who made international headlines this year:
Kudus scores stunner against Liverpool
In September, Ghanaian youngster Mohammed Kudus went viral after scoring a stunning goal in the UEFA Champions League against Liverpool.
The Ajax star latched onto Steven Berghuis’ cutback before hitting a fierce shot that ricocheted off the post before ending at the back of the net.
Although Ajax eventually lost the game 2-1, Jurgen Klopp, Rio Ferdinand and Thierry Henry all praised Kudus for his goal.
Kamaldeen among fastest players at World Cup
Ghanaian winger Kamaldeen Sulemana didn’t play much during the Qatar 2022 World Cup but his cameo appearances were enough to grab attention.
The Stade Rennes forward came off the bench in Ghana’s final group game against Uruguay and he had a big impact, running the show on the left wing.
At the end of the group stages, Sulemana emerged as the fastest player in the tournament, as per stats from Opta.
Afena-Gyan becomes first Ghanaian to win Europa Conference League
Felix Afena-Gyan also made the headlines after his fairytale rise at AS Roma ended with him winning the Europa Conference League.
The teenager was part of Jose Mourinho’s Roma side that defeated Feyenoord 1-0 in the final to lift the maiden edition of the competition at the Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania.
Afena-Gyan, therefore, became the first Ghanaian footballer to win the Conference League and also the youngest Ghanaian player to lift a European title, having done so at the age of 19.
Partey’s alleged rape case
Earlier in the year, Thomas Partey also came under the spotlight after he was accused of rape in the UK.
The Arsenal star maintained that he was innocent, with one of the cases being dismissed by the court. However, the accuser, a lady called Sarabella, went on Twitter and leveled all sorts of accusations against the midfielder.
Partey was never found guilty of any of the accusations and his club stood by him, allowing him to continue playing despite calls by some fans for him to be dropped over the alleged rape case.
Gyan after Ronaldo broke his record
Asamoah Gyan’s legendary status is well-documented and he made headlines this year when one of his records was broken by Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portugal captain’s goal against Ghana at the Qatar 2022 World Cup saw him become the first footballer to score in 10 consecutive major international tournaments.
For many years, that record was held by veteran forward Gyan, who has scored in nine successive international tournaments. However, Gyan’s record was equalled by Ronaldo during last year’s Euro 2020 when the five-time Ballon d’Or winner scored in Portugal’s victory over Hungary.
Ronaldo went on to become the outright owner of the record after coincidentally scoring against Ghana via a penalty as Portugal beat the Black Stars 3-2 in Qatar.
Wakaso’s wild tackle on Ashimeru
In November, Mubarak Wakaso made headlines in Belgium, Ghana and on social media following his wild tackle on compatriot Majeed Ashimeru during a league game.
The two Ghanaian midfielders faced each other when Anderlecht hosted KAS Eupen in the Belgian Jupiler League.
Anderlecht coasted to a 4-2 victory, but a major talking point from the game was Wakaso’s tackle on his international teammate Ashimeru. The Eupen midfielder went in hard at his compatriot and stepped on his ankle. The tackle left Ashimeru reeling in pain but Wakaso didn’t show any remorse.
Rather, he went protesting the referee’s decision to whistle for a foul and got himself yellow-carded in the process. A clip of the incident went viral on social media, with some Ghanaians criticising Wakaso for his reaction after nearly injuring his compatriot.