Andre Ayew: The ultimate big-game player

Andre Ayew fired a brilliant winner for Swansea
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On Monday night, Andre Ayew hogged the headlines in England and Wales after a clutch performance in the Championship play-off.

“Andre Ayew’s moment of class puts Swansea in driving seat against Barnsley,” The Guardian headline read while Daily Mail wrote this “Andre Ayew’s sublime piece of individual brilliance separates the two sides..”

The two media outlets and many others were reporting the outcome of the match between Swansea and Barnsley, and of course, Ayew dominated the headlines because he made the difference in the tight contest.

The Ghanaian scored a fine individual goal as the south Wales club won 1-0 at Barnsley in front of 4,000 fans to take a first-leg advantage. Ayew cut inside from the right and curled an unstoppable left-footed effort past the goalkeeper.

His 17th goal of the season, but it is the one that the Swansea faithfuls will cherish most if promotion is eventually secured. Being the difference-maker once again manager Steve Cooper eulogised Ayew in his post-match comments.

“Andre was the one who made the difference on the night. We know he can do that. Once he gets in them areas on his left foot he can be a real handful and he proved that tonight.”

What Ayew did on Monday is exactly what the greats of the game do. They choose their moments, especially when the stakes are very high, and they deliver.

In many people’s books, Ayew may not be a football great, but there is no doubt he is a big-game player because he performs well in highly pressurised games for both club and country.

Ayew is not a striker. He is a playmaker but his love for goals has forced him to sometimes abandon playmaking duties. According to Transfermarkt, he has scored 149 official goals so far in his career, which is more than his total assists (62).

Focusing on the goals, 19 have come in a Ghana shirt since his debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old.

He has scored the majority in major international tournaments, a combined 11 goals in the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup. Ayew has scored in six tournaments, with only legendary striker Asamoah Gyan having scored in more tournaments for the Black Stars since 2006.

Ayew doesn’t fancy scoring in qualification and friendly matches, having netted 8 times, but none in World Cup qualifiers.

Ayew loves to be in the spotlight. He loves to celebrate by beating his chest in international matches that attract global attention.

His headers against Germany and Burkina Faso as well as his fine strike against Equatorial Guinea remain fresh in the minds of Ghanaians because they were important matches.

The 2-2 draw with Germany means the Black Stars were the only team that didn’t lose to the eventual champions at the 2014 World Cup.

Before that, a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso sparked a relatively inexperienced Black Stars team’s impressive run to the 2010 Afcon final.

Five years later, another final was achieved thanks to the 3-0 hammering of the host country. In all three games Ayew was phenomenal.

At club level, Monday night was one of many times he has stood out.

Last year, he scored a stunning winner for Swansea in their first-leg semi-final play-off victory over Brentford.

During his time with Marseille, he scored in back-to-back Champions League group games against Napoli in 2013.

In his first season in the Premier League, he scored against five of the top six teams. Ayew opened his scoring account against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and went on to score against Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Manchester City, and a brace against Liverpool.

At 31, Ayew has proven countless times that he is not a player who is overwhelmed by nerves or the occasion and is capable of affecting the outcome of big games.

Hopefully, he leads Swansea back to the Premier League.

By: Enoch Fiifi Forson||Ghana

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