Just one shot was enough to completely change the career of two players, one became a legend and the other began to deteriorate, a few centimeters could make a hero or a failed player.
Asamoah Gyan’s missed penalty kick in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final was a snapshot that marked the beginning of the decline of a player with great potential in African football, and on the other hand, it was the moment Suarez launched to be one of the best strikers in the history of the game.
But to know how it got to that scene, we have to go back and tell the story from the beginning.
In 2003, an 18-year-old striker started his professional career in the Ghanaian league with the Liberty team, scoring 10 goals in 16 matches and quickly capturing the attention in Italy.
In the same year, Gian moved to Italian club Udinese, who were relegated to the second division.
In the second division, Asamoah participated with the team in only 7 matches, during which he did not make or score any goals.
The year 2005 was the true beginning of the story, Jian reached his 20th year and began the stage of football maturity and scored 8 goals, but in return his opponent was in the formative stage.
Luis Suarez is promoted to the Uruguayan first-team squad for the first time at the age of 18 and has been involved in just a few minutes throughout the season.
Gyan’s performance with Udinese was enough to be included in the Ghana squad for the 2006 World Cup, even if he was in the Italian second division.
The 21-year-old participated in the first World Cup with Ghana and scored a goal in the group stage against the Czech Republic to score his first goal in the most prestigious tournament in football.
Drake Boateng, his colleague in Ghana, spoke of Gyan’s confidence, who told him that he would score against the Czech Republic, which has already been achieved.
“Gyan told me that he would score against the Czechs, so his scoring did not surprise me,” said Boateng.
Everything was going well and called for optimism, but it collide with reality when facing Brazil in the round of 16, and facing one of the biggest teams in the history of the tournament will not be easy at all.
The match ended with Brazil winning 3-0, and Asamoah Gyan was sent off after receiving two warnings, ending the tournament at that point.
In the same year, Uruguay could not qualify for the World Cup, and then Suarez was promoted for the second time with the Nacional team in a season in which he participated in three rounds.
But in the end, it was a successful version of the brown stars who achieved the goal of reaching the round of 16, during which Gian scored one goal in his first participation in the World Cup.
Gyan’s career continued to grow, and the player moved to the English Premier League, specifically to Sunderland, and continued his brilliance with the Ghana national team at the individual level.
On the other hand, Luis Suarez’s career was continuing to develop, the player finally moved to Europe and began to gradually improve from Groningen to Ajax, the source of talent for the major European teams.
The 2010 World Cup was an exceptional edition that was held in an African country for the first time, something that gives greater motivation to the African teams to achieve a unique achievement in the tournament amid great public support.
Ghana qualified from the group stage with a superb performance with two wins and a difficult defeat against Germany. Asamoah himself scored two goals from penalty kicks against Serbia and Australia.
In the round of 16, Ghana continued to shine and achieved the achievement and beat the United States of America with two goals to one.
Asamoah Gyan, the hero of Ghana and Africa, scored the deadly winning goal in the 93rd minute to achieve the greatest achievement in Ghana’s history in the World Cup by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history and by participating in the second with a powerful left shot from inside the penalty area.
Senegal became the third African team in history to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, after Senegal in 2002 and Cameroon in 1990.
And now to the decisive moment that fate led Suarez and Gian’s career to it throughout their professional career.
The pressure was greater on the Ghana team because it carried the hopes of an entire continent, because the tournament witnessed the qualification of 6 African teams for the first time due to its residence in South Africa.
Some news came out of FIFA saying that if Ghana qualified for the semi-finals, Africa would get 6 seats permanently.
Ghana’s ambitions in the match were not only limited to the hopes of its own people but the people of Africa as a whole.
Ghana’s champions against current champions Uruguay, both of whom have scored three goals so far in the tournament, with the tournament’s top scorer David Villa ending it with five goals.
A difficult match for the two teams, one of whom wants to reach the first semi-final in his career, and the other is fighting for the first time in 56 years.
Sulley Muntari scored Ghana’s first goal in the 45th minute with a powerful shot from outside the penalty area.
It was not long before Diego Forlan equalized for Uruguay in the 55th minute from a wonderful direct free kick, and the match went into overtime.
The difficulty of the match increases with each minute and is heading for the last meters and the tie is still the master of the situation, and in the last minute of extra time and a free kick, there was confusion within the Uruguay penalty area and Stephen Appia put a header in the midst of the crowd heading to the goal to write for Africa the first semi-final in the World Cup, but out of nowhere Luis Suarez appears to replace Fernando Muslera, the goalkeeper who came out of his own net and saved the ball with his hand from the goal line.
Great objections from the Ghana players, and the referee responds to calculating the clear penalty and decides to send Suarez off, who prevented an accomplished goal.
Asamoah will take the penalty with moments of complete silence and Suarez is watching from the entrance to the dressing-room pass, crying without daring to look at the ball during the execution.
Gyan shot with a strong force, but hit the crossbar and rose over the goal, turning the situation from Ghanaian joys to complete silence, and Uruguay’s shouts of celebration of the new opportunity they had obtained, and Suarez exploded in tears, but with tears of joy this time to come out ecstatic to the dressing rooms to enforce the laws.
After the penalty kick was wasted, the referee ended the whistle and the match went to the penalty shootout, and here the expected scenario was a moral collapse from the Ghana players and a great euphoria in the Uruguayan ranks. To the semi-finals after an epic match.
What happened to Gyan after the match was the worst, Suarez was considered a popular hero in his country, while Asamoah’s transformation into the failed player was the reason for his exit from the World Cup.
Three months after the match, Gyan spoke about Suarez’s behavior in:I forgive him, this is part of football, if I were him he would do the same because the match was in the last minute and his team would have been out, he made himself a champion in Uruguay, touching the ball by hand was cheating but I would do the same“.
Suarez moved to Liverpool, one of the most successful steps in his history, and faced Gyan in the English Premier League already, but there is a difference between the Uruguayan, who starred with Liverpool and was the top scorer in the league and almost led the team to crown the title, and the Ghanaian player, whose career began to deteriorate after the World Cup.
Asamoah recently spoke out again about the incident and appears to have regretted forgiving Suarez before.
“To be honest, I wanted to punch Suarez during my days with Sunderland,” Gyan told Football Ghana network years later. “We were playing a home match against Liverpool and the moment of handshake came between the players. I decided to calm down.”
Two years later and in the 2012 African Nations Cup, Gyan missed a new penalty kick in the semi-final against Zambia and ended the match again with the defeat of the Black Stars.
Some members of the player’s family spoke of receiving death threats over the penalty to the point that they told the player, who wanted to retire from international football, that he should not pay any penalty kicks with Ghana in the future.
His family members talked about the player’s psychological trauma after he missed a penalty kick against Uruguay, which was the reason for his drop in level.
The player himself spoke in two years ago about the penalty, stressing that it is still chasing him until now.
“Anytime I’m alone, that shot still haunts me,” Gyan said in comments on Ghana’s Channel Three.
“Sometimes I think the world has to go backwards so I can redeem myself, but I know this thing will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
“I agree with this because I know there is nothing I can do. I went to save my country and ended up being the bad guy, but I understand because I know how people feel,” he added.
“It was disastrous, I couldn’t sleep all night because I was crying until morning, but I was a little quiet because I couldn’t cry any more,” he stressed.
“All I was telling myself was to get a second chance because I knew how to compensate even if it was far from football, but even if I didn’t, my children would do it one day.”
And because the days are turning, Suarez was exposed to a difficult situation in the 2014 World Cup, specifically in the group stage when facing Italy. The player bit Giorgio Chiellini, the Italian player, to see the referee and leave the field with a red card.
The matter did not stop with the expulsion, because the International Football Association decided to punish Suarez with a four-month ban from international football.
Asamoah returned with Ghana and participated in that edition, but the opportunity was not repeated to write the achievement again and he was eliminated from the group stage with one point, and despite scoring two goals, no one remembered the player’s contributions in the tournament.
Jian’s career had already begun to deteriorate from the beginning of 2011. He left the English Premier League and moved to Al Ain and Al Ahly before going to the Chinese League in 2015.
Asamoah’s career continued to deteriorate. He returned to Europe from the Kayserispor gate, but again he moved to the unknown by going to the Indian League and from there to Ghana’s Legon Cities and currently does not play for any club.
On the contrary, in 2015 Luis Suarez had managed to get himself out of the suspension crisis and was contributing to Barcelona’s crowning of the Champions League for the fifth time in its history and collecting it in the league and the King’s Cup to achieve the historic treble and formed a historic trio with Lionel Messi and Neymar in the best periods of his career.
Suarez left Barcelona and moved to Atletico Madrid and won the Spanish League. Currently, the player has returned to his original team in Uruguay to help him for half a season and will leave to return to Europe with ease.
The Ghanaian player had stressed that he had not yet retired and that he would return to the Ghana national team to participate in the 2022 World Cup.
Gyan said that he is currently training to try to get back to his pre-tournament level, but it seems that it will not be easy given that he has not played with any team shortly before the tournament and in light of the delegation of many players with dual nationalities who play in Europe to participate with Ghana in the World Cup, such as Inaki Williams. And Felix Gyan So it will be a difficult task for Asamoah to return to the national team, even if he is working hard.
On the other hand, Suarez is preparing to participate in a version that will probably be the last in his career, and he is still participating mainly with his country.
Ghana and Uruguay will meet in the 2022 World Cup after falling in one group alongside Portugal and South Korea, a difficult group for the African team.
The Uruguay match has a special character because it will bring back painful memories and will be an appropriate opportunity to return to what happened in 2010.
And if Asamoah joins the Ghana list, he will face Suarez again after many years to try to beat him even once at the end of his career, bearing in mind the difference between the importance of a match in the group stage and another in the quarter-finals.
Despite the little age difference between them, Suarez will end his football career as a legend and everyone will remember him as a Uruguayan hero in the World Cup despite his cheating in front of everyone, while the most prominent shot for Gyan is the failure to score the penalty kick, which will be associated with him throughout his life, forgetting. He is the all-time top scorer for African players in the World Cup with six goals.
With a different view, Gyan is one of the legends of African football and the Ghana national team, but a few centimeters made the difference in his estimation.
The most important question remains, did the career of Gyan and Suarez change if the penalty kick was scored?