Michael Kojo Essien (also referred to as Mickaël Essien) (born 3 December 1982) is a Ghanaian footballer who currently plays for Chelsea in the Premier League. Born in Accra to Ghanaian parents, Essien grew up in Awutu Breku in the central region of Ghana where there were very little opportunities in his community for most people to develop to their full potential. He began his football career after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, playing in a local club in his native Ghana, called Liberty Professionals. He broke through when he played in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand. This led to considerable attention from European scouts, and he even had a trial at Manchester United in April 2000, playing in the club’s youth team’s defeat by Derby County.
He is an all-round midfielder who can play multiple midfield roles (defensively and offensively). Between the summer of 2007 and the summer of 2009, Essien was the most expensive African footballer on account of his £24.4 million move from French club Olympique Lyonnais to Chelsea FC. Essien is often referred to as “the Bison” for his tough tackling style, boundless energy and physical presence on the pitch
On May 16, 2006, Essien was selected to be part of the team that represented Ghana at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In the 2008 African Cup of Nations Essien turned in another brilliant performance, driving the team to the semi finals with his power-packed performances.
He was voted as an All-Star Player during the 2008 African Cup of Nations Tournament in Ghana.
Away from the pitch, Essien is known for his charity work and his foundation. The Michael Essien Foundation (MEF) is a local Ghanaian NGO, which aims to create opportunities and hope for the underprivileged in the Awutu Breku area. The goal of the MEF is to promote basic community amenities and opportunities for various groups through different projects and activities like: healthcare equipments, libraries, public toilets, clean drinking water and sports day activities.