Avram Grant explains how he prepared “injured” Christian Atsu to win best player award at 2015 AFCON
Former Ghanaian footballer who lost his life few days ago, Christian Atsu was named 2015 African Cup of Nations most valuable player and also had his goal win the best goal of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
During 2015, the winger was injured and had not played active football for close to six months but was invited by then Ghana manager Avram Grant for Africa’s prestigious tournament.
Christian Atsu defiled all odds to shine with splendid performance throughout to see Ghana reach the finals of the tournament, only to lose on penalties to Ivory Coast despite leading 2-0 on the shootouts.
Speaking to Joy Sports, Israeli coach Avram Grant explained why he took Atsu to the tournament despite knowing his injured. He said, he knew him from their time at Chelsea and knew what he could come with.
“It’s a story that shows also about his character and how strong he is mentally because I received the team very short time before the AFCON after the crisis in the World Cup in 2014 and he was not even on the list because he didn’t play half a year. The first half of the year he didn’t play, he didn’t find a team, partly because of injury.
“Then I knew him also because Chelsea bought him and he played in Holland and I decided to take him to the team which I think a lot of people didn’t agree with me which I understand because he didn’t play for half a year”
Grant disclosed that he put Atsu on a special program with the team’s fitness coach, Jamie Lawrence, to prepare him for the tournament.
“So we put him in a special program with Jamie Lawrence, the fitness coach to prepare him and I remember that I had a conversation with him, he said to me if you decide to take me, I don’t care if I play one minute or five minutes or 10 minutes.
“I’m a Ghanaian. I’m proud of my team and after what happened in the World Cup with the supporters don’t believe in us. I want to give my contribution”.
Christian Atsu lost his life after being trapped in the Turkey earthquakes earlier this year and has seen tributes pouring in from all over the world.
Story Kolog Bonaventure