Attempting to follow in a famous father’s footsteps often extracts a heavy toll on young footballers, but Dede Ayew has already made some remarkable strides of his own. As a teenage prodigy, he had to deal with the full glare of football’s intense spotlight but at the age of 21 is already a world junior champion and has played at two CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Born Andrew Morgan Rami Ayew in Lille, France, the son of Black Stars legend Abedi Pele was always going to face a career of comparison to the fleet-footed running and the goal-scoring acumen that earned Abedi Pele a record three African Footballer of the Year awards. Dede Ayew has already faced a test of character and bounced back from adversity as his young career threatened to stagnate. He has revived his international fortunes over the last six moths and is now hoping his club career will also blossom as it threatened to do when he first appeared on the scene.
Ayew was only 17-years-old when he first put on the jersey of Olympique Marseille, having come through the club’s academy, but he was never able to realise that promise and was loaned out to Lorient and, this season, Arles-Avignon in Ligue 2. His first international cap came aged 18 when Claude Le Roy brought him on for a brief substitute showing in a friendly with Senegal. The veteran coach quickly realised the potential and blooded Ayew progressively into his team over the next months as they prepared to host the 2008 CAF Africa Cup of Nations finals. Ayew made the 23-man squad and played in four of the six matches at the tournament, one in the starting line-up in the semi-final where Ghana lost to Cameroon. Ayew played only briefly under new coach Milovan Rajevac until his role in helping Ghana win the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt last October, a performance full of personal highlights that catapulted him back into the senior team and saw him feature and impress at the Nations Cup in Angola earlier this year.