Posted on: Sun 17 Dec 2006

Michael Essien, looking to play his 18th complete Premiership game of the season today at Everton, has explained what might be a reason for his outstanding energy reserves.


Chelsea's Ghanaian midfielder is enjoying an astonishing season, having played every minute of every game in every competition.


He has stepped into defence at times at both right-back and centre-back and of course struck what is arguably the Chelsea goal of the season so far against Arsenal.


Despite his adaptability, it will be a surprise if he lines-up at Goodison Park anywhere but on the right of the midfield, whichever system is deployed. Where he ends the game is a different matter.


'I am ready to play anywhere the manager wants me to,' he says as he looks forward to the Everton challenge. His stamina and strength, he suggests, comes from his earliest football days back in Ghana.


'When I was a kid, we used to play outside and we used to play for two to three hours.


'You would play until you felt tired and then stop and go home. The game would still be on.


'The games were hard. You had to play against some older people and they would keep pulling you and kicking you. You had to be strong.


'The Premiership is a little bit like our culture in that it is very hard. That is why we are doing well,' he says, his thoughts widened to West Africans in general playing in England. 'We are used to hard work.


'In Ghana they all watch Chelsea now. Most of them support Chelsea because of me. Right from the beginning football is something I wanted to do and I am living my dream now.'


The work ethic is not far Essien's mind as he considers the early afternoon challenge ahead as Chelsea play immediately prior to Man United's game at West Ham.


'Every game is important to us so we must get our heads down, work hard and get the three points.


'I think Man United can feel us coming. It is up to us to get the three points.'