The erstwhile Juventus man looks back on a special moment during Ghana’s maiden appearance at the global showpiece
Former Ghana captain Stephen Appiah has opened up on his penalty against the United States at the 2006 World Cup, joking he lost five kilogrammes on the spot due to the pressure to score.
At the tournament in Germany, the ex-Juventus man sent Ghana into the Round of 16 with a spot-kick on the stroke of half-time after Razak Pimpong was fouled in the box.
The goal, ultimately the match-winner, put the Black Stars 2-1 up in the Group E fixture after Haminu Dramani’s opener for the West Africans was cancelled out by Clint Dempsey’s equaliser.
“It’s always difficult to take penalties,” Appiah said on Joy TV.
“Against the USA, we were down 1-0 and Haminu Dramani equalised and a minute to half time, we got a penalty and I had to take it and it was very very difficult.
“This is a situation everybody is looking at you when you think back home, Ghanaians, the streets, the family and you don’t have to think about anything to put that ball in. I lost five kilos at that spot.
“Some of us, working under coaches like Arrigo Sacchi, [Fabio] Capello, Marcello Lippi and the rest, when you are taking a penalty [you need to] just target a spot and hit the ball there. That was what I did and buried it that day.”
Ghana ultimately finished second in the group behind Italy, going on to face Brazil in the Round of 16.
It was a historic moment for the Black Stars as Germany 2006 marked their debut appearance at the World Cup.
“Most people don’t know but we [Ghana players] actually agreed among ourselves that we were not just going to add up [the numbers],” Appiah recounted last year.
“We went to that World Cup to make history and that made the difference. Our aim was to do something and I think we achieved it because we were united.
“If you came to our camp, you would not see any difference between the young players and senior players because we were all one.
“We were united and played like a team, so it was easy for us to come together.”
Four years later, Appiah and Ghana made another appearance at the World Cup, going a step further to reach the quarter-final.