He has been accused of being a mercenary and lacking ambition, but Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan insists he has no regrets over turning his back on the English Premier League for the UAE.
The 27-year-old Ghanaian came in for heavy criticism when he quit Sunderland for Al Ain in 2011, initially joining the club on loan before making the move permanent 12 months.
Despite the abuse he has received, Gyan has not looked back since, scoring 53 goals in just 40 matches to help Al Ain clinch back-to-back Pro League titles.
Last season he also picked up the Al Hadath Al Riyadi’s golden boot, awarded to the top scorer in the Arab leagues, for his exploits in 2012 before going onto becpme the first player in UAE football history to score more than 30 goals in a campaign.
Little wonder then he is giving little thought to what might have been had he stayed on at the Sunderland, whom he joined in a then club record £13m deal from Rennes in 2010.
“I don’t regret quitting the English Premier League at all,” Ghana captain Gyan told reporters in homeland. “I am comfortable and happy there, and most importantly I deliver when I come to the Black Stars.
“My decision to move to the Arab world bordered on my family and what was good for me and not what people said or will say. Some people listen to friends in taking critical decisions and they mess up in the end.
“I scored 22 goals during my first season and improved to 31 in last season’s league and that is a great mark.”
It has not all been plain sailing for Gyan in the UAE, though, with the striker briefly retiring from international football last year after receiving widespread abuse following Ghana’s exit from the African Cup of Nations.
Having since returned to the Ghana set-up and being made captain, Gyan was then rocked earlier this year by the tragic death of his mother in a car accident.
Al Ain fans rallied around their talisman with Gyan appreciative of their support. “I’m always thanking them (fans) because they were always supportive,” he said in a previous interview.
“They stood by my side when I lost my mom. They supported me and this gave me self-confidence even in my hardest times.”