Abedi Pele, born on the 5th of November 1964, is one of the great pioneers of African football in Europe. One of the first great African players to make an impact on European club football,he played for teams in Switzerland, Germany, Italy and most famously France where he helped Marseille win the 1993 UEFA Champion’s League.
He was a fixture in the African Championships of the 1980s and 90s with Ghana, though the Black Stars never managed to reach the FIFA World Cup. He has since become one of the continent’s most respected and important ambassadors. Abedi Pelé is a member of FIFA’s Football Committee.
As a 17-year old he had helped Ghana win the Nations Cup in 1982 but his efforts to lead the team to a similar triumph as captain in the 90’s were of no luck. 1992, when they reached the finals, he was suspended because of two yellow cards and had to watch his team losing on penalties.
Abedi holds the CAF Cup as the player who has been at the Nations Cup Finals more than any other on the continent, beating even the legendary Roger Milla of Cameroon to the record. He made his first appearance at the 13th Nations Cup Finals in Libya in 1982 and for the next 16 years (ending at the 21st Finals in Burkina) continued to grace the most prestigious football fiesta on the continent, first as a member of Ghana’s squad rising to become captain in 1990, as captain.
Abedi’s brilliant exploits on the field took him to France, Italy, Germany and the Middle East, where he attracted millions of fans. He was very instrumental in Olympic Marseilles winning the European Club Championship trophy in 1993, the first time a French team won it.
Abedi Pele left Ghana after the `82 African Cup to Qatar. He had a short spell with F.C. Zurich in Swiss. He returned to Ghana and after both Kotoko and Hearts failed to signed him he joined Dragons of Benin for a short spell. He finally returned to Ghana and played for RTU for a season. He left to start his career in France with Chamois Noirt, then Montpellier, then Lille before he moved to Olympique Marsielle. He later joined Lyon, then Torino before finishing his European sojourn with 1860 Munich.
Pele has the singular honour of participating in more FIFA organized charity matches than any African player. He is currently on the player status committees of both FIFA and CAF.
Pele is adored in many African countries, especially the Francophone countries because of his exploits in France.
Nevertheless, in countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, football fans still wear T-shirts bearing his name. In fact, Abedi is indeed a goodwill soccer ambassador of Africa. That explains why the South African FA made him a Spokesperson for their 2006 World Cup bid.
In appreciation of Abedi’s devout services to the country, the Ghanaian government awarded him the country’s highest honour, the Order of the Volta (civil division). He thus becomes the first Ghanaian sportsman to be so honoured.
However, among his many awards, the one Abedi would like to forget is the European Cup medal he won with the French side Olympique de Marseilles which was later withdrawn by Uefa after Marseilles’ owner Bernard Tapie had been found guilty of cheating and other malpractices.
He was in June 2001 nominated by the present government of Ghana to serve as the next Chairman of the FA, an opportunity he later gave up for a more experienced former coach of Ghana for which in his own words said that this was to be an opportunity to learn from his superiors.
He at present owns a club with the future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledging league of the country
- 67 international caps for Ghana
- 50 Bundesliga appearances and two goals (1860 München)
- 1992/1993 Champions League winner (Olympique Marseille)
- African Player of the Year (1991, 1992 and 1993)