Not to be confused with Pelé or Pedro Pele.
Abedi Ayew (/əˈbeɪdi əˈjuː/ ə-BAY-dee ə-YOO; born 5 November 1964), known professionally as Abedi Pele, is a Ghanaian former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder and who served as captain of the Ghana national team. He is regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time. He played for several European clubs and found his fame in the French Ligue 1 with Lille and Marseille, the latter where he won the UEFA Champions League in 1993, among other titles. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.
Quick Facts: Personal information, Full name …
Abedi Ayew Pele
Abedi Pele in 2007
Date of birth
5 November 1964 (age 56)
Place of birth
Kibi, Eastern Region, Ghana
1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
Real Tamale United
Real Tamale United
→ Lille (loan)
Nania (Head Coach and President)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Abedi Ayew was born into a family in the town of Kibi and grew up in the town of Dome at the northern outskirts of the city Accra.
He attended Ghana Senior High School in Tamale. He was given the nickname “Pelé” due to his ability in football, which evoked comparisons to the Brazilian athlete Pelé.
He was one of the first African players to make an impact on European club football.Abedi Pelé’s nomadic career began with Real Tamale in Ghana in 1978. He left Ghana after the 1982 African Cup of Nations to join Al Sadd in Qatar for a $1,000 transfer fee. After a short spell with FC Zürich, he returned to Ghana but, after both Kotoko and Hearts of Oak failed to sign him, joined AS Dragons FC de l’Ouémé in Benin. He would later return to Ghana and play for Real Tamale United for one season. He began his career in Europe with French side Chamois Niort, subsequently joining Marseille before transferring to Lille on loan.
At club level, he was a key figure in Marseille’s dominance of the French league, resulting in four league championships and two European Cup finals appearances. At Marseille, he was a member of the team’s “Magical Trio” along with Jean-Pierre Papin and Chris Waddle, spearheading perhaps Europe’s strongest league side of the early 1990s, including a European Cup final defeat in 1991. Abedi was the only remaining member of the trio still with the side when Marseille defeated Milan in the 1993 Champions League final in Munich.
He later joined Lyon after his loan spell at Lille. He also played for Torino of Italy and rounded out his European career with 1860 Munich.
Abedi Pele went on to sign a two-year contract with Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates and was nominated one of the best foreign players to play in the UAE league.
Abedi Pele played for Ghana 73 times. Until 7 June 2013, when he was surpassed by Asamoah Gyan, he was the top goalscorer for the Black Stars with 33 goals. He was a fixture in the African Championships of the 1980s and ’90s with his national team, and a member of Ghana’s victorious team in the 1982 African Cup of Nations, but he never had an opportunity to play in the FIFA World Cup, as the Black Stars failed to qualify for the competition during his career. However, he was arguably the most dominant figure on the African football scene for nearly a decade. His performance in the 1992 African Cup of Nations is often cited as one of the most outstanding football displays by any player in a single tournament[by whom?]. His native Ghana reached the finals of the Cup that year, only to lose on penalties in the final to the Ivory Coast after Abedi was suspended because of a yellow card he received in the semi-final against Nigeria. Prior to that, his three goals against Zambia, Congo and Nigeria proved crucial in putting Ghana through to their seventh appearance in a CAN final – and their first final in ten years. The performance earned him the added nickname of “The African Maradona”. His solo run goal against Congo in the quarter-finals is often compared [by whom?] to Maradona’s second goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
He was a captain and was one of the first African football players to earn a top placing in FIFA World Player of the Year voting in 1991 and 1992. He has won the France Football African Player of the Year Award three times, was the inaugural winner of the BBC African Sports Star of the Year in 1992, and the corresponding Confederation of African Football award twice. He was also awarded the golden ball award for being the best player at the 1992 African Cup of Nations, and was the “man of the match” in Marseille’s historic UEFA Champions League final win over Milan in 1993.
Abedi holds the record for most appearances at the Nations Cup Finals. 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 Faso) continued to appear on the football tournament, first as a member of Ghana’s squad rising to become captain in 1991. Aside from his exploits at the 1992 competition, Abedi also earned much acclaim for his three goals at the 1996 competition, where he led Ghana to the semi-finals of the competition despite critics expecting him to be in the twilight of his career.
Abedi Pele in December 2007
Ayew has participated in more FIFA organized charity matches than any other African player. Abedi Pele is a member of FIFA’s Football Committee, and of the player status committees of both FIFA and CAF. 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 became the first Ghanaian sportsman to be so honoured.
CAF-UEFA All Star
Amongst his international accolades, he was often included in FIFA “All-Star” selections and captained the African All-Stars in their victory over their European counterparts in the 1997 Meridian Cup.
On 29 January 1997, the first UEFA–CAF Meridian Cup All-Star Match between Europe and Africa was played in Benfica’s Estádio da Luz in Lisbon and was televised in 100 countries worldwide, including 30 in Africa, for an audience of 60 million viewers. Abedi Pele scored a goal early in the first half and, after Vincent Guérin had equalised for Europe just before half-time, it was the 1998 African Player of the Year, Mustapha Hadji, who struck Africa’s 78th-minute winner in the 2–1 win.
In 2001, the UEFA–CAF Meridian Cup All-Star Match format was changed slightly for the second All-Star Match to bring together players aged between 35 and 45 who now revel in their ‘veteran’ status and play the game purely for pleasure. The squad sparked off memories of great footballing moments at club and international level
In June 2001 he was 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.
At present he owns a first division club, called Nania, with the future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledgling league of the country. He has also been involved with various charity work across the African continent.
Abedi Pele was recently embroiled in a serious alleged Second Division Promotion Play-off bribery scandal for which the Football Association found him and others guilty. The guilty verdict attracted fines and suspensions of Abedi and others, but these have been quashed by the Appeals Committee of the Football Association after determining that there were irregularities in the initial judgement of the Ghana Football Association. The allegations stem from an astonishing 31–0 victory recorded by his club, Nania FC over a much respected Okwawu United side. A similarly farcical 28–0 result was recorded in another second division match played between Great Mariners and Tudu Mighty Jets on the same weekend. The clubs involved in that Second Division Promotion Play-off Zone III match were also investigated and subject to the prospect of stiff penalties and demotions. Despite his vehement denials, Abedi had been chastised by some members of the Ghanaian media, who were demanding that strong punitive actions be taken against him, by Ghana’s football governing body as well as the legal system. His wife Maha Ayew was on 3 November 2008 banned from football against this Manipulations Scandal.
Style of play
As a playmaker, Pele was known for his speed, close control, and dribbling skills, as well as his passing and goalscoring ability. He usually played as an attacking midfielder or as a forward. He was also given the nicknames the “Maestro” and “The African Maradona.”
Abedi is the brother of Kwame and Sola Ayew (ex-Hearts of Oak and Black Meteors). He is also the father of André, Jordan, Rahim, Imani, and is married to Maha. His sons, Ibrahim, André and Jordan, have also become internationals for Ghana. Andre and Rahim – represented Ghana in the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa while Jordan and Andre represented Ghana in the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Domestic league statistics
More information: Club, Season …
French Division 1: 1990–91, 1991–92
UEFA Champions League: 1992–93; runner-up: 1990–91
UAE President’s Cup: 1999
African Cup of Nations: 1982; runners-up: 1992
West African Nations Cup: 1982, 1983, 1984
Ghana SWAG Best Colts (Young) Player: 1978
BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1991
African Footballer of the Year: 1991, 1992, 1993
African Nations Cup Golden Ball: 1992
FIFA World Player of the Year: 9th 1992, Nomination 1991
Ghana Footballer of the Year: 1993
African Player of the Century by IFFHS 3rd
FIFA All-Star Forward: 1996 (Reserve), 1997 (Reserve), 1999
On 26 March 2004, he was appointed a “(WAFUNIF) Special Envoy 4 Peace and Development”
Top 30 African Footballers in the last 50 years: 5th place
Golden Foot Legends Award: 2011