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Lyon, FRANCE: Lyon's Ghanean midfielder Michael Essien celebrates after scoring a goal during the French first league football match between Lyon and Caen, 15 October 2004, at the Gerland stadium in Lyon. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE MERLE (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE MERLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Essien reveals the excitement after being named best player in Ligue 1 in 2005

Ghanaian international Michael Essien has highlighted on how excited he was after being adjudged as the most valuable player in the French Ligue 1 in the 2004/05 season.

Enjoying his second spell at the Stade de Gerland, Olympique Lyon continued with their dominamce grinding the Ligue 1 title for the fourth consecutive time.

Michael Essien had a fantastic season in the 2004/05 campaign having featured in all league games except only one which was due to suspension. The former Bastia player then, boosted with three goals to his belt.

His stellar output and his box to box role in the centre of the pitch that season for Lyon earned him the prestigious Ligue 1 player of the year at the end of the season which came as a big surprise to him, he revealed.

Voted by the National Union of  Professional Footballers (UNFP), the Ghanaian surpassed his own teammate Juninho Pernambucano to land this accolade. He was also placed 25 on the list of the FIFA best player accolade in the same year.

Juninho then was a very good player technically, good in ball distribution with great vision but his best asset in the game that many knew was his ability and great techniques when it comes to dead balls, he was indeed a specialist. He still holds the record of the player with the most free kick goals (77) in football. Edging him to win the award was a big achievement for me according to Essien.

“I was not paying attention to winning individual awards because I only wanted to enjoy my football. I remember being invited to the Players Awards night but I didn’t want to go until Juninho [Pernambucano] came to talk to me. A few of my teammates were going so I had to go with them and I was very surprised when I won it,” he said in a chat with Carol Tsabalala on Instagram.

“I didn’t know they had gone to Ghana to interview my mum and sisters. They only played the video to me when I was on the stage receiving the award.”

Right after the season, in the summer of 2005, Michael Essien joined Premier league giants Chelsea for a fee of £24.4million making him the most expensive African footballer in history and also Chelsea’s record signing then surpassing Ivorian Didier Drogba who had also moved to the same club.

By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim

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