He was named ‘Pele’ because of his ability to evoke comparison to the Brazilian football genius Pele.
Born on November 5 1964, Abedi Ayew ‘Pele is one of the first great African players to make an impact on European club football. He is also a former Ghana International football player and captain.
At age 17, Abedi Pele helped Ghana win the Nations Cup in 1982. But after helping the Black Stars team to finals in 1992 as captain, he was suspended because he picked up two yellow cards and watch the Ghanaian side lose on penalties in the finals..
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 left Ghana to pursue his professional career in Qatar after 1982. After a short stay with Switzerland F.C. Zurich, he returned to Ghana and played for Real Tamale United for a season.
He started his European career in France with Chamois Niort, then Montpellier and Lille, before he moved to Olympique Marseille. He later joined Lyon. He also played for Torino of Italy, where he won the Best Foreign Player in Serie A, before finishing his European sojourn with 1860 Munich.
Abedi found fame in France’s Ligue 1 with Lille OSC and Olympique Marseille and was named African Footballer of the Year in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He was named as one of the top 125 greatest living footballers in March 2004. 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 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.
He 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.
Upon being awarded a European Cup medal Abedi won with the French side Olympique de Marseilles, UEFA later had to withdraw it because the owner of the French club Bernard Tapie, was found guilty of cheating and other malpractices.
He was in June 2001 nominated to serve as the next Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, an opportunity he later gave up for a more experienced former coach of Ghana, Ben Koffie.
He currently runs his own football club called Narnia FC with the future hopes of nurturing the young talent to augment the fledging league of the country. The club won the MTN FA Cup in July 2011 after beating Ghanaian Football giants Asante Kotoko 1-0 in the finals.
Three of his sons, Ibrahim, Jordan and Andre Ayew are currently paying their dues to Ghanaian Football as players of the Black Stars. They are following in the footsteps of their father performing well in both local and international football. In a very funny way, one can say Abedi is giving back to the society in a very interesting way.
Abedi Pelé is a member of FIFA’s Football Committee and is one of the continent’s most repected and important ambassadors.