"He is my leader and commander on the pitch. He has a lot of experience and has the ability to conjure up something special when you need it most. He's inspirational. He pushes the team forward and, against Uzbekistan, we saw just that."
These are the words of Ghana coach Sellas Tetteh about his captain Andre Ayew, following Saturday's 2-1 win over the west Asians. Although his name might not allude to it, he is the son of Abedi Pele, one of the finest Ghanaian and African players of all time. Pele captained the Black Stars for six years and is the country's all-time leading goalscorer with 33 goals in 73 appearances, earning the nickname 'The African Maradona' in the process.
"I don't get tired of answering questions about my father; he brought a lot of joy to people in Ghana and Africa and I've very proud of that," smiled Ayew. "He lifted the level of football in the continent. But I do find it difficult when people compare us. We are different players and we are different people.
"I'm not an out-and-out winger, I'm a midfielder. I can hold the ball up when I need to and I can play behind the strikers. I'm not as quick as him, but maybe I'm a little bit stronger on the ball. The decisive factor is that he was voted as the best player in Africa three times, but I've never had that honour - so there's no way I can compare myself with him!"
Pele was 27 when he earned his first African Footballer of the Year award, so at the age of 19, Ayew still has a lot of time to catch up with his legendary father. Although a Marseille player, he is currently on loan with Arles following a similarly successful spell with Lorient last year.
"Going on loan has helped my career a lot," he continued. "I'm a player who wants to play and grow into the game. You've got to learn to know the grass, know the players, know your own game and what you can and can't do. You don't learn much from the substitute's bench. I just hope that these experiences will help me to become an important player for Marseille."
The Ghana No10 only joined up with the Black Satellites squad two days before their opening match with Uzbekistan, but was instantly handed the captain's armband by Tetteh given his ability and experience. Ayew has already been capped 15 times at senior level and was part of the Ghana squad that finished third at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations.
"In some ways being captain means a lot - and in some ways it means nothing," he said. "Wearing an armband doesn't mean that you're the best player and it in that sense it doesn't matter. What matters is playing well and helping your team-mates. Obviously I am very proud to be the captain of the U-20 side and I try to perform my role as best as I can.
"When I play for the Black Stars, we have leaders such as Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari, but now some of us, including myself, have to step up and take more responsibility. We have to show the others that we've gained experience from the senior team and in turn pass that on. I hope that this U-20 squad goes on to become the Black Stars in future years. I think we have the potential to do that."