On 3 December 1982, former Ligue 1 Player of the Year and BBC African Footballer of the Year Michael Essien was born in Accra, Ghana.
An energetic box-to-box midfielder and tenacious defender, Essien began his professional career in 2000 with French club Bastia. Initially used as a reserve back, he switched to midfield in 2001 and flourished. After only three seasons, he drew attention from bigger clubs and signed with Lyon in 2003.
In two seasons at Lyon, Essien won two Ligue 1 championship medals and, after his second season, was named the 2005 Ligue 1 Player of the Year. That success led to a move to Chelsea in the summer of 2005 after an extended negotiation, with the London club paying what was then a club record transfer fee of £26 million. He made 31 league appearances for Chelsea in his first season as the Blues won the 2006 league title. Essien followed that performance by leading Ghana through the group stage of the 2006 World Cup and claiming the 2006 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.
He later added another league title with Chelsea (2010), as well as four FA Cups (2007, 2009, 2010, 2012), one League Cup (2007), and the Champions League (2012). Essien currently plays for Panathinaikos after joining them in June 2015.