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Who is Chelsea legend Michael Essien?

Michael Kojo Essien, simply known as Essien, was born on 3 December 1982 in Accra. Essien is a Ghanaian former footballer who played as a midfielder for the Premier League club Chelsea.

Michael was also capped for the national team more than 50 times. During his prime, Michael was considered one of the best midfielders in Europe. Michael started his career playing for Liberty Professionals in Africa.

In 2000, Essien moved to France to join Bastia, where the midfielder would spend three years and appear in over 60 games before joining Ligue 1 trophy holders Lyon in 2003.

At Lyon, Michael won back-to-back Ligue 1 trophies in 2003–04 and 2004–05 and won Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2005, according to a report. During his five-year stint in Ligue 1, Essien acquired French citizenship.

In 2005, Michael signed with the English club Chelsea for a £25m transfer fee and, at the time of his addition, was the most expensive African player in history.

At the London club, Michael helped the Blues win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one League Cup.

Essien won the Champions League in 2012 while also placing as runner up in the 2008 Champions League. Michael has won the Chelsea Goal of the Season award twice in the 2006–07 and 2008–09 campaigns.

Michael Essien’s international career

Michael is a former Ghanaian international. At the youth team, Essien represented his national team at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, with the latter squad finishing as runner-up.

Michael played his debut senior game in winter 2002 and has represented Ghana at three Africa Cup of Nations competitions. Michael has also represented the national team at the 2006 and 2014 Mundials.

In the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, Michael turned in another strong display, driving the national team to the semifinals with his power-packed displays.

In the quarter-final with Nigeria, when Ghana captain John Mensah was dismissed on the stroke of the hour for a professional foul on Nigeria’s Peter Odemwingie, Michael assumed the captaincy for the rest of the game as his side eventually won 2–1.

Essien was voted as an All-Star Player during the competition. In summer 2018, Michael announced his retirement from the national team after over 12 years of active service with Ghana.

Essien said that he even retired before the 2014 Mundial, but the midfielder was called back by former Ghana manager James Kwesi Appiah to come and help the national team.