Michael Kojo Essien (born 3 December 1982) is a Ghanaian professional footballer who played as a midfielder and currently a part of Danish Superliga club FC Nordsjaelland’s player/ coaching staff. He has also been capped for the Ghana national team more than 50 times.
Essien started his career playing for Liberty Professionals in Ghana. In 2000, he moved to France join Bastia, where he would spend three seasons and appear in over 60 matches before joining Ligue 1 title holders Lyon in 2003-04 and 2004-05, and won Ligue 1 Player of the Year in 2005. During his five-year stint in France, he acquired French citizenship. In 2005, Essien signed with Premier League side Chelsea for a 24.4 million Euros transfer fee and, at the time of his signing, was the most expensive African footballer in history. At Chelsea, expensive African footballer in history. At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one League Cup. He won the UEFA Champions League. He has won the Chelsea Goal of the Season award twice, in the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons.
Essien is a former Ghanaian international. At youth level, he represented his country at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship and 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, with the latter team finishing as runner-up. Essien made his senior team debut in January 2002 and has represented his nation at three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Essien has also represented Ghana at the 2006 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
Born in Accra to Aba Gyandoh and James Essien, Essien attended Gomoa Nyanyano DC Primary and JSS. He began his football career after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, playing at a local club called Liberty Professionals. Essien broke through when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. European scouts began to take notice, and Essien had a trial at Manchester United on April 2000. He played in the club’s under-17 team’s defeat to Derby County.
Manchester United offered him a contract, but he was ineligible to obtain a work permit in the United Kingdom. He, therefore, considered joining Belgian feeder club Royal Antwerp until he was eligible to move to England. However, his mother meanwhile preferred a move to France instead.