IMPRESSED BY ESS
In Ghana, we spoke to a few of Michael Essien's friends and colleagues to gain understanding of how they see the midfielder, and what it was that made them want to support his Foundation and the Game of Hope and Inspiration over the weekend.
Here, the first group share their thoughts on the Chelsea man…
Michael Ballack - former Chelsea team-mate
He is my friend, we know each other well. He came to my testimonial game in the week, and it is nice to support each other. It was a pleasure to be here. Normally you don't have much time in your football career to do these kind of things, when you have had a heavy season and need to rest, but I have been retired for a year and have more time for things like this. It was not an easy trip but I have a fantastic relationship with Michael and it was normal to come here. We were looked after well after a long journey and everybody from the Foundation made everything as comfortable as possible - it was a fantastic job and hopefully they've raised a lot of money for what they want to achieve.
Jeffrey Bruma - Chelsea team-mate
Michael asked me to come and I felt it was important to come, to help his country and raise money for these charities. I'd never been to Ghana before, so it was exciting for me, but the most important thing was to support him. He's a well-respected person everywhere he goes, and he respects people back too, that's what I like about him.
Mark Bright - former Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday forward, now a reporter for the BBC
I came to Ghana in 2008 and I really wanted to be involved. I know how passionate Ghanaians are about their football and how revered Michael and the other stars are over there. It's unbelievable, manic. It's a tough three days with so much packed in, and hot for the players, but it's a worthy cause and I'm glad Michael like many other players gives something back to his country, his community and their children. Wen you make good you should help others if you're in the position to, and Michael is one of those who does.
Jamal Blackman - Chelsea team-mate
Michael was an influence when I first started training with the first team and was always there to help, so when I had the chance to do something for him I was really pleased to help. I didn't know how big a deal it was until we stepped off the plane and saw the welcome. It's also not every day you go to a country and are invited to meet the president, so it was an amazing experience for me and I'm really grateful to Michael.
John Paintsil - former Fulham defender, and Ghana international team-mate
Michael has been an amazing team-mate and friend to me. He has done well for the nation. Him doing this is brilliant and it's a privilege and an honour to be part of this campaign. It's the second time he has done it and every Ghanaian is happy, but this is for the entire African continent. In the future I think some more of us will step up and do this. He is giving back to society and that's good. I'm very happy to be a part of it.
George Boateng - former Coventry, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough midfielder. Ghanaian-born, Dutch international
Michael is a good friend of mine and I respect him as a person. I look at his heart, besides his football qualities which we all know, and this idea to do this is fantastic. He is a hero here and people love him for what he gives back. He has done well supporting these charities, providing education, supplying water and promoting sport. To get the presidency of Ghana on his side says a lot about him and how important he is to the country.