Former Black Stars and Chelsea star, Michael Essien, has opened up on how shocked he was at winning Ligue 1’s Best Player award in 2005 when he played there for Olympique Lyon.
Essien joined Lyon from Bastia in 2003 and went on to make 71 appearances for them including a run in the UEFA Champions League in 2005 that ended with a penalty shootout loss to PSV in the last 8.
In that year, he missed only one in the season and his performances for the club got the approval from his fellow players in the league in the form of the best player award.
In an interview with SuperSport anchor, Carol Tshabala, on Sunday on Instagram, Essien admitted that he was stunned to win the award ahead of players he considered better than he was like Brazilian midfielder, Juninho.
“To be honest, I was not paying to individual awards because I was just enjoying my football. I did not even want to go to the players’ awards night when I was invited but some of my team mates were going so I had to be there too.
I was very surprised when I won the award. I did not know that my mother and my sisters had been interviewed in Ghana and I was emotional when I see the interviews being played. I was happy but I was emotional too.
Winning the Best Player award in France at the time was great. I was in competition with my team mate Juninho and he was a magician with the ball and so, to be ahead of him was remarkable.”
The award opened the door for Lyon players to win the Best Player awards in France until 2008 when Karim Benzema became the last Lyon player to be the toast of French football.
Essien was with Lyon between 2003 and 2005 before heading to Chelsea in a 24.4 million pound transfer.