Story: MAURICE QUANSAH
THROUGH no fault of his, Andre 'Dede' Ayew has been under media spotlight as he bids to follow his father's footsteps as the son of the legendary Abedi Pele Ayew, easily Ghana's most celebrated player of all time and one of Africa's greatest players.
Not many sons of famous footballers have made it as big as their fathers. They are often bogged down (and sometimes consumed) by the weight of expectations as people tend to make comparisons between these promising kids and their great fathers. The comparison becomes even more intense when the wonder kids bear striking resemblance as their fathers, both in looks and general disposition on the football field.
Like his famous father, Andre is a prolific attacking midfielder with a playing style similar to his father’s, including being left-footed. He is supremely gifted and has a big heart for big occasions, as has been evident in his three appearances as a substitute for the Black Stars at the MTN Africa Cup of Nations.
Also, like his father, Andre is making his mark at France's Olympique Marseille, the club where Abedi won four French Ligue 1 titles and made two European Champions League final appearances, including Marseille's famous Champions League win in 1993.
Such comparisons may not always be logical, but what else can be said of a promising youngster who made his international debut at 17, just like his father who became the youngest winner of the Africa Cup of Nations at 17 when Ghana completed a quartet of continental titles in 1982.
After impressing in the UEFA Champions League where he displaced French international Djibril Cisse in the Marseille team, Andre has been linked with a summer move to English Premiership giants Arsenal, whose French manager, Arsene Wenger, has reportedly made a £5 million bid for the Ghanaian.
At the tender age of 18, Andre has carried the famous family name well and won many fans, particularly female admirers who seem to adore him as much for his talent as for his good looks.
How times have changed! When the Abedi-led Black Stars returned home after finishing fourth at the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, an innocent-looking, six-year-old Andre and his younger brother Jordan were at the Kotoka International Airport to welcome their father.
The Ayews surely have football genes, with ex-Black Stars striker Kwame Ayew and ex-Hearts of Oak and Black Meteors midfielder Sola Ayew both carrying the family name at different periods in their careers.
Several years down the line, Andre is carrying the family torch and is destined for greatness. Similarly, Jordan Ayew's garden looks equally green after he was recently invited into the France Under-17 team.
Close observers believe that Jordan, who plays for the youth team of Marseille, is more gifted than Andre and may become a bigger football star. Only time will tell.
Andre has long been touted as one of the best youngsters in France and actually received four call-ups into the French national youth team but minor injuries prevented him from playing for the country of his birth until he made his Ghana debut last August against Senegal in London, three months after he had signed for a professional contract with the senior team of Marseille.
A well-cultured youngster, Andre acknowledges he is still on the learning curve and working his way to the top without living in his father's shadow.
"I want to make a name for myself and not just be seen as the son of Abedi Pele," he says.