Like father like son in Africa

November 13, 2007

George WeahA surprise UEFA Champions League outing last week for Dede Ayew highlights a new generation of African footballers, who are seeking to emulate their famous fathers.

Ayew, who at 17 was thrust into the deep end in Olympique Marseille’s 2-1 loss at FC Porto on Tuesday, is the son of Abedi Pele, a former European Cup winner with Marseille and three-time African Footballer of the Year.
Abedi, who now runs his own team in Ghana’s second division and acts as an ambassador for South Africa’s 2010 World Cup Organising Committee, was something of a teenage prodigy himself.

He was also but 17 when he played in the 1982 African Nations Cup tournament in Libya, setting off a career trail that took him to France, Italy, Germany and the Middle East before he settled back in Accra.

Dede Ayew was born during Abedi’s time in France and could have chosen to play for the French national junior sides but has already been capped at full international level by Ghana, following again in his father’s footsteps.

Abedi beams with pride at his son’s exploits, but jokingly refuses any suggestion his son might be a better player than he was at this age.

George Weah, the only African to have won the World Footballer of the Year award, had a teenage son at the AC Milan academy in Italy while 20-year-old Willy Aubameyang, son of Gabon’s most famous footballer Pierre Aubame, is currently on the books at the ‘rossoneri’.

An elder brother Catalina Aubameyang also spent his formative years at the Italian club’s academy before moving on to his current employers, Ajaccio in France. Aubame’s third son Jean Emerick has kept up the family tradition and is also in AC Milan’s youth teams.

George Weah junior played for the USA at under-20 level, but now 21 is struggling to find a professional contract. He went on trial at Slavia Prague last month. George Weah’s second eldest son Anthony has more of his father’s enormous potential, observers say.

Cameroon goalkeeper Jacques Songo’o spent most of his career at Metz in France, where his son Franck grew up and eventually played for France’s under-20 side.

The junior Songo’o is now on the books at Portsmouth, although has yet to break into Harry Redknapp’s team. Instead he is on loan at Crystal Palace.

Metz was also the club of dreadlocked Senegal player Jules Bocande, whose son Daniel also played at the club but was released at the end of last season.

The next progeny with a glowing reputation is Jean-Armel Kana Biyik, an 18-year-old defender at Le Havre in France’s Ligue 2. His father Andre Kana Biyik was a bruising defender for Cameroon in their famous 1990 World Cup side, the first African team to get to the quarter-finals.

Mark Gleeson, Johannesburg

PHOTO: George Weah speaks in Monrovia,  Liberia Dec. 2005 REUTERS/Emmanuel Tobey

One comment

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I saw Ayew play for Marseille against Lyon on Sunday and he had quite an effective game wide on the left of a 5 man midfield. He got forward and supported the striker well and never tried to overcomplicate things – if there was space to get down the line, that’s where he went. I think with some of these ‘chips off the old block’ it’s cruel to compare them to their elder greats. I remember Jordi Cruyff at Man Utd, he was 23 when he joined and seemed full of promise.His father had won European footballer of the Year, the European Cup and played in the World Cup by the time he was 23!

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