Interview By Halifax Ansah-Addo
Essien Vs Dad: The Full Story
Soccer hero Michael Essien and his dad, James Essien, are trading accusations and counter accusations about who neglected who and the world is watching the tango between dad and son.
Michael has issued a detailed press statement on the matter and threatened to take a few media houses to court because he was unhappy about the way the story was carried and when News-One contacted James for an interview on the matter, he gave some shocking revelations.
We present excerpts of the interview as well as a full text of Michael’s press statement.
News-One: “You seem to be destroying your son with this claim that he has neglected you.
James Essien: “It is not true I am out to destroy Michael, at least I am proud he has sent my name to the international levels and if I played football for Gold Coast and my son is playing for Ghana, what can I say but to be proud of him but truth must also be said that Essien is not looking after me as he is making the world to believe”
News-One: Why is not looking after you as you are alleging
James Essien: I believe it is because he grew up with the mother, Aba, so he is closer to her and takes care of her but I am an old man and I cannot tell lies against my own son, Michael does not care about me. I have not seen him for the past 15 years and I have not spoken to him for the past six years because I do not even have his number, let alone contact him and his mother has refused to give me the number; the sister, Diana also says she does not have the number”
News-One: But you know where to contact him when he is in Ghana.
James Essien: “No I do not. There was this time I heard he was in Ghana and would be training at the stadium so I dressed in my best cloths and travelled all the way to Accra…After the training I went to the dressing room but when my son saw me, he bent his head as if he was lacing his boots and remained there for over 15 minutes so I went to him and raised his head.
“Michael asked me who brought me to the stadium and it came to me as a surprise and I told him I was playing football at the stadium before he was born….When he got ready to leave I followed him to his car and reminded him that I came to see him for a discussion but he insisted he was busy.
“I then asked for transportation back home but he did not give me and asked me to meet him at Novotel the next Monday. I managed to perch with friends in Accra and finally got to Novotel on Monday only to be told Michael Essien left the country Friday night soon after my meeting with him”
News-One: Could it be he was hurt because you neglected him as a child?
James Essien: “Ha ha ha ha. I did not neglect Michael. When the mother and I broke up, he was about two years so all the children stayed with her but they always came to me during festivals and some holidays, it was after he got to France that I stopped hearing from him and had never had his number.
“I looked after him and I was the one who even sent him to Sewedro Secondary school after his JSS. On that day I even had an accident and this is a story many people in Sewedro still remember. From there he had a scholarship to St. Augustine.
“I must confess I was not sending him money when he was in school but it was not deliberate because I was not having money at the time… I did my best to look after him but as a revenue collector what could I have done. I took him to secondary school, when he had the Liberty opportunity I played a major role. You ask Alhaji Sly Tetteh.”
News-One: What about the three-bed room house he built for you?
James Essien: “This is where I live; a mud house built by my brother many years ago even before Michael was born. It is the room in which I stay that he renovated and added a hall. He has never built me a house. I do not believe he wrote that statement himself.”
News-One: He claims he sends you money for your up-keep and car maintenance.
James Essien: “Yes once in a while he sends me GH¢500 (about $400) but the money is not regular and at times has about six months interval. As for the car, it is still at the workshop because there is no money to repair it. I am the third person to own that car and it is not as new as you think.
News-One: Is it true he pays for your medical bills and sent you to the Asikuma Hospital?
James Essein: “If Michael Essien says he sent me to Assikuma Hospital, it is a big lie; it is a traditional medicine man that comes here to take care of me.”
News-One: “If you had a message for your son, what would it be?
James Essien: “Oh I want to see him. We should live as father and son. It is not that I am interested in burdening him with my problems. I was taking care of myself before Michael was born and since then I still take care of myself; look I was born on 28th September 1932 so I not a small boy and there is very little I still expect from this life. But Michael is my son, my blood, the one that makes me proud all over the world and I must at least be made to feel like a father but not a stranger to him. I would want him to know I still love him as my child and follow his career and all his games. In fact there are things I want to tell him as a father, things I want to tell him in person.”
News-One: Thank you for the opportunity.
James Essien: Thank you and tell those who do not believe what I am saying to come here to see things for themselves.”
FULL MICHAEL ESSIEN STATEMENT TO THE PRESS ON FATHER’S CLAIMSI have faced many many difficult challenges in my life but this is the hardest thing I have ever done as my heart bleeds over the false statements recently peddled by a small section of the Ghanaian media goaded by my own father.
I had never wanted to discuss my family in public or any good I do to anyone because when you do good, you go only for God’s recognition.
But for the thousands of Ghanaians and the highly respectable people of our country who have contacted me and know what I have consistently done for my father, I need to react to stop the attempt to destroy me in the eyes of the people of Ghana and disgrace my family.
Given what I have done for my father, when I was told of the false, vile and degrading comments he made about me, I wept because people normally do not get insults for doing good.
But my father decided to pay me back in such a terrible way. Because of this I have been unfortunately forced to say what I have done for him because he has gone to the extreme to disgrace my family. I will like to state the following facts:
1. My father currently lives in a three-bedroom house (not mud house) I instructed my sister to build for him with my own money.
2. He is visited monthly and more recently twice a week by my sister Diana on my orders to regularly give him money and other essentials I send. My mother, whom he has insulted so much, also provides for him.
3. I bought a car for him to make his transportation easier and part of the money I provide for him is used to fuel the car or repair it when it breaks down.
4. When his illness broke out I asked for him to be taken to the Asikuma Hospital but he said he wants traditional medicine. I provided money for him to undergo traditional treatment. It came to nothing and I ordered for him to be taken to the hospital. My family, I believe have also organised for a nurse to come home and look after him on regular basis.
Because of these reasons and many more reasons I won’t state publicly, I am shocked by what he is alleged to have said but God knows I have done my best to thoroughly look after a man who didn’t even raise me or take part in my upbringing and who has 8 other children who can help.
What has surprised me though is how certain media houses in Ghana can present one side of a story and not seek to check the other side before going all out to criticise my whole family.
I want to state here categorically that even after such distasteful comments; I will continue to support my father as I believe it is the right thing to do.
I will not discuss this matter further as I have asked my legal team in Ghana to investigate all the allegations and the media that callously carried out this agenda and take action where necessary.
Signed: Michael Essien.