Asamoah Gyanâ€™s move to Shanghai SIPG of China seem to shock many football fans , but other Ghanaian stars have played in that region of the world and made great headlines.
They are Kwame Ayew, Nii Odartey Lamptey, Moses Sakyi, Lee Addy and Dan Quaye who played in the Chinese soccer league.
However Asamoah Gyan has a special case because he is to earn $350,000 a week from Shanghai SIPG. He will join a long list of Ghanaian footballers who have once-upon-a-time plied their trade in Chinese soccer.
From Nii Odartey Lamptey who first showed up in the Far East in 2001 to Lee Addy's 3-month sojourn with Jue aja, look at the famous Ghanaian names to have played in China before Asamoah Gyan.
1. Nii Odartey Lamptey (Shandong Luneng, 2001-02)
Hailed as the next Pele by the legendary Brazilian himself following his MVP heroics in leading Ghana to a first U-17 World Cup victory at Italia'91, Nii Odartey failed to live up to the hype following his 'smuggle' to Belgian side, Anderlecht even before his 16th birthday.
Stints at PSV (Holland), Aston Villa, Coventry City (England), Venezia (Italy), Union Santa Fe (Argentina), Ankaragucu (Turkey), Uniao Leiria (Portugal) and Greuther Furth (Germany) between 1993 and 2001 did not bring any joy as Odartey became the reference point of a cautionary tale of putting too much pressure on young players.
Lamptey â€“ at long last â€“ found some minor success upon signing for Shandong Luneng in China in 2001, where he was accepted and loved by the fans, scoring 9 times for the Chinese outfit in 38 games. However, he left after a season, first to Dubai, and then back to his native Ghana, where he became the first Ghanaian international player to return to his native league. He retired in 2007.
The former Ghana international described his time in China as the happiest time of his life, finally being accepted and loved by fans and experts again.
2. Kwame Ayew (Changsan Ginde 2003, In International Shangai 2004-05, Inter Xiang 2006)
Easily Ghana's best export to Chinese football, his 40 goals in 84 Super League matches underline it.
The junior brother of Abedi Pele would always be in the shadows of the legendary big brother but Kwame Ayew had his fair share of fame as a hitman of renown class. After announcing himself as a rasta haired striker whose 6 goals powered Ghana to Africa's first Olympic soccer medal in 1992, Kwame Ayew started playing professionally in Europe at only 17 years spending two seasons (1990-92) with Metz in the French Ligue 1 before moving to Al Ahli in Qatar.
Lecce in Italy followed before he moved to Portugal in 1995 where he first played for Uniao Lieria ahead of stints with Victoria Setubal, Boavista and Sporting Lisbon with who he won the Portuguese top league in 2000.
After two years in Turkey, Ayew moved to China where he spent four of the last five years of his professional career playing for three clubs from 2003 to 2006.
First call was Changsan Ginde where he scored 14 goals in 28 games in 2003 before switching to International Shangai where he claimed the 2004 'Best Shooter Award' for finishing top scorer in the Chinese Super league on the back of 17 goals in 20 games.
The 2005 season wasn't so successful for Ayew, banging in just 8 goals in 23 games. He moved to Inter Xiang for the 2006 season which he scored just one goal in 13 games. In January 2007 the then 33-year-old returned to former side SetÃºbal, contributing solidly as the Sadinos avoided top flight relegation by one point; he retired from the game shortly after.
"I am very proud because I was one of the first to go there. It's not just about the financial incentives. It's a different world, a different culture," Ayew said in a 2012 interview.
"It is very demanding. You cannot just take the money, have fun and come back, because when you go there and you don't perform, they terminate your contract," he may have warned Asamoah Gyan.
3. Dan Zien Quaye (Chongqing Lifan 2007-08, Yanbian Changbaishan FC 2009-11, Beijing Baxy 2012-13)
A member of Ghana's first ever FIFA World Cup squad in Germany 2006, Dan Quaye is best remembered for his eight-year career at Hearts of Oak where he played an instrumental in the Ghanaian giantsâ€™ six league title successes along with helping them lift the CAF Champions League in 2000, CAF Super Cup in 2001 and CAF Confederation Cup in 2005. Quaye then moved to Chinese club, Chongqing Lifan, played fourteen games in one year and returned to Hearts of Oak in August 2007 but was again released by Hearts back to Chongqing Lifan in March 2008. In January 2009, Quaye left Chongqing Lifan back to Ghana where three months later, he signed for Sekondi Eleven Wise who were then back in the Ghana Premier League but was soon on his way to China to Yanbian FC in late 2009, extending his contract with Yanbian in 2010.
The 1997 FIFA U-17 World Cup silver medallist moved to China League One side, Beijing Baxy in February 2012 and remained clubless since they were relegated that year until he finally signed for the club where he began his career, Accra Great Olympics to play in this season's Ghana Premier League.
4. Moses Sakyi (Hangzhou Greentown Football Club, 2009)
The much travelled striker who started his career with Liberty Professionals in Ghana rode the shortest stint of all Ghanaian players in the Chinese Super League after playing a total of just seven games during his spell in 2009, getting a return of no goal to his name for Hangzhou Greentown Football Club. The now 34 year old played for Moura in the Portuguese lower leagues last season having previously played for clubs in Germany, Turkey, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, UAE (Al Ain in 2010-11) and Indonesia since leaving Ghana in 2001. Moses Sakyi also has two Ghana caps to his name, following a debut in a 0â€“0 friendly against neighbors Togo on 14 June 2004 and a 2â€“0 win against Morocco in France on 8 September 2007.
5. Lee Addy (Dalian Aerbin Football Club 2012-14)
Currently on the books of Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, Lee Addy joined the then newly promoted Chinese Super League side, Dalian Aerbin Football Club on Wednesday 4 January 2012 on a three-year deal and was handed the squad number 13 after passing a medical test.
The shock move from Serbian club, Red Star Belgrade was for a transfer fee of $2.2million. Addy had joined Belgrade on the back of playing for Ghana at the 2010 FIFA World Cup when he was with Berekum Chelsea in the Ghana Premier League.
The former player of Abedi Peleâ€™s Nania FC played 24 games in cup and league for Dalian Aerbin before on 10 February 2013 it was announced that he had been loaned to Dinamo Zagreb for a year before finallu completing the move back to Europe by signing for Zagreb in January 2014.
The move by the Skipper of the Black Stars hopes to open many doors for Ghanaian footballers.
Source: Sammy Heywood Okine