Exclusive: Asamoah Gyan Q&A
23 June 2011
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan is taking his summer holidays in his home country after playing in a tough first season in England with Premiership Sunderland.
MTNFootball.com spent some time at the Ghana international's home in Accra to talk to him about the past season in England.
Gyan has been linked with several clubs in Europe this summer transfer window so we talk to him about his future with his English club, the Black Stars' recent matches and the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
MTNFootball: How have you been celebrating your holidays?
AG: You would think you might be taking some rest but itís no time to rest at all because after being away for one year, you must see and visit your family, your friends and other social programmes that I must attend to.
There are also friends and family who want to come home and visit and have a chat. So I have to make time for all Ė for family, for friends and for the less privileged in my country by visiting and offering some help.
We footballers who play in the top leagues of Europe are blessed and when we come back home we must look to give to those who are in need.
MTNFootball: Have you been thinking about football during your holidays?
AG: I try as much as possible not to think about but this is not only my job but also my passion and I can't leave it. I must wake up early every morning and go jogging on the streets of Accra or in the gym.
Also I go to the place where I started playing football to play with my childhood friends to keep fit, see my childhood friends, go the neighbourhood and also entertain the people who have been supportive of me with their prayers whether when I am playing for Sunderland or playing for my country.
I always look back to my childhood with nostalgia.
Click image to access Asamoah Gyan gallery.
MTNFootball: Have you taken stock of what happened to Sunderland last season?
AG: Yes. I always reflect on our last game so that I can improve by the next game and in the same way I have been thinking through my Sunderlandís season when I am lonely. I think about our performances, where things worked, where things did not work and would want to us to improve on what we did last season.
MTNFootball: What were your high points and low points of the English Premier League season?
AG: I think our 3-0 win over Chelsea was huge and our 1-1 draw with Newcastle in January at home was big because of the time the equaliser came. The way we finished the league was not what we expected. But as you know the injuries late in the season affected us and I think with luck on our side we will avoid this situation next season.
MTNFootball: We have read of reports of the club wanting to sell you next season. Are you on the verge of leaving?
AG: I am not leaving Sunderland and I am not interested in these rumours in the newspapers and the internet. I am fully committed to Sunderland because I love the institution and traditions of this club.
I am staying at Sunderland next season and the foreseeable future as I am looking forward to meeting my team-mates and Sunderland fans when we return next month.
MTNFootball: Lots of players have left Sunderland. What must Sunderland do to compete to honours next season?
AG: It is obvious that when some players leave some must come in and the manager has already indicated that we will have some good quality players coming in. Good players like Danny Wlebeck, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari have all left so it is natural that some will come in. We will have a junior team with good players and I think some might be promoted too.
MTNFootball: You were left all alone upfront at the end of last season. Did it affect your performance or your output?
AG: I am used to playing alone upfront for the Ghana national team but for the injuries late last season, I would have had some support which is always good. Playing alone upfront requires a lot of energy and tenacity especially in the Premier League where itís running for 90 minutes. So help and tight team work is required to succeed when playing alone upfront.
MTNFootball: Sunderland have been linked with players like Peter Crouch to boost the attacking department of the club next season. Do you welcome the signing of such players?
AG: I cannot comment on specific players because they are under contract with other clubs so itís unfair to ask me to comment on them signing for my club. But generally everyone will agree with me that Crouch is a good player who will boost any club at any time. It is up to my bosses at Sunderland to decide.
MTNFootball: Your national team colleagues Sulley Muntari and John Mensah have left Sunderland. You will be lonely next season if stay there.
AG: I will miss them and playing with them at Sunderland was like playing for the Black Stars. They will be missed but as you know there are many, many players at Sunderland who are friends and we will keep each other happy. There is never a dull moment!
MTNFootball: You were with the Black Stars throughout the holidays and even though you didnít play against Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, victory means you are still neck-and-neck with Sudan. Do you think you will qualify especially when you will play in Sudan in what looks like a decider on the final day?
AG: First we must play our next game against Swaziland and sweeping them aside like that is disrespectful. I think we must respect all our opponents and we should not be complacent.
These days there are no small teams in Africa. We will take one match at a time and deal with Sudan when the time comes.
But I will assure you one and that is Ghana will qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. If it means we must go to Sudan and win there, we are capable of doing it and God willing we will do it when it comes to that. We have done it before, in the game on our way to the 2010 World Cup, and we will do it again.
MTNFootball: You have played only two matches under coach Goran Stevanovic and that's because you are serving a suspension. What is your assessment of the coach?
AG: Even if I am not playing he invites me to the squad and I am grateful for the confidence he has in me and I am working hard so that by the time I finish serving my suspension I can hit the ground running.
I will say the coach is a great coach. He comes with a different style which more attacking and he is very serious with his training sessions and very tactical. All my colleagues are comfortable with this and confident in the coach.
MTNFootball: How different do you think he is with previous coach Milovan Rajevac?
AG: Milo was very, very tactical with his approach and the system he used then was alien to Ghana football but provided the results.
The current coach provides almost what Ghanaians are used to but also very cautious with defending. In essence all the coaches have their unique styles but all aimed at winning matches for the Black Stars.
This is the bottom line Ė we must win our matches.