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Abedi Ayew Pele
Abedi Pele 2007.jpg
Abedi Pele in 2007
Personal information
Full name Abedi Ayew
Date of birth (1964-11-05) 5 November 1964 (age 58)
Place of birth Kibi, Eastern Region, Ghana
Height 1.74 m
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1970–1978 Great Falcons
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1980–1982 Real Tamale United 46 (21)
1982–1983 Al Sadd 8 (7)
1983–1984 Zürich 18 (9)
1984 Dragons l'Ouémé 8 (11)
1985 Real Tamale United 19 (7)
1986–1987 Niort 32 (14)
1987 Mulhouse 16 (5)
1987–1993 Marseille 112 (23)
1988–1990 → Lille (loan) 61 (16)
1993–1994 Lyon 29 (3)
1994–1996 Torino 49 (11)
1996–1998 1860 Munich 50 (2)
1998–2000 Al Ain 31 (28)
Total 479 (159)
National team
1982–1998 Ghana 73 (19)
Teams managed
2004– Nania (Head Coach and President)
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Abedi Ayew (/əˈbdi əˈj/ 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.

Early life

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.

Club career

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 United 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.

International career

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. 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 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.

After retirement

Abédi Pélé (cropped)
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.


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

Football Ambassador

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.

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."

Personal life

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.

Career statistics

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season
Division Apps Goals
Real Tamale United 1980 Ghana Premier League 11 0
1981 Ghana Premier League 12 7
1982 Ghana Premier League 23 14
Total 46 21
Al Sadd 1982–83 Qatar Stars League 8 7
FC Zürich 1983–84 Nationalliga A 18 9
Dragons l'Ouémé 1984 Benin Premier League 8 11
Real Tamale United 1985 Ghana Premier League 19 7
Niort 1986–87 Division 2 32 14
Mulhouse 1987–88 Division 2 16 5
Marseille 1987–88 French Division 1 5 0
1988–89 French Division 1 4 0
1990–91 French Division 1 32 5
1991–92 French Division 1 36 12
1992–93 French Division 1 35 6
Total 112 23
Lille (loan) 1988–89 French Division 1 24 7
1989–90 French Division 1 37 9
Total 61 16
Lyon 1993–94 French Division 1 29 3
Torino 1994–95 Serie A 32 10
1995–96 Serie A 17 1
Total 49 11
1860 Munich 1996–97 Bundesliga 25 1
1997–98 Bundesliga 25 1
Total 50 2
Al Ain 1998–99 UAE Football League 20 17
1999–2000 UAE Football League 11 11
Total 31 28
Career total 479 157



Al Ain

  • Pro-League: 1999–2000
  • UAE President's Cup: 1999



  • 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"
  • FIFA 100
  • Top 30 African Footballers in the last 50 years: 5th place
  • Golden Foot Legends Award: 2011
  • IFFHS All-time Africa Men's Dream Team: 2021


  • Order of the Volta (Ghana) - ribbon bar.png
    OOTV Civil Division: Order of the Volta: (1996)
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