If one thing is to be said about how the modern game has changed, then much has to be said about how interactive the players have gotten with the fans. Because of how technology has advanced over the past years, social media platforms have created a very affable atmosphere between two of the most important stake holders in the game: players and the fans.
Most professionals these days take to Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram among others to interact with their fans. One of such professionals who has constantly made use of these platforms is Michael Essien. Courtesy of his blog on Chelsea FC, this is one of his recent interactions with his fans. To all the ‘Bison/Ess’ fans, I hope you enjoy it: Feliciana Vernon: What is your no.1 entertainment and relaxing technique?
Ess: Listening to music and relaxing at home with my family have to be my number one techniques. I love chillaxing and as long as there is always music in the background, I am a happy man.
Jack McGrath: Hey Michael, don’t know if you remember me. I was the Chelsea fan with your shirt on while you were on loan at Madrid; we saw each other at the Castillo Son Vida in Mallorca. Just wanted to say thanks for your service to the team, and also ask how many more years you aim to play football?
Ess: Yes I remember you and it was a pleasure to meet you. I aim to carry on until my body can’t take it anymore. It’s difficult to say whether it will be five or 10 years. As long as I keep enjoying playing and my body can take the demands of football then I will keep on playing.
Tae-soon Park: Why did you start playing football?
Ess: I just loved the game as a kid because it’s what we did in my local area all the time. There was school in the morning and football all afternoon and weekends. It was our way of hanging out and the best way to mix with my friends and have fun.
Dan Emsley & Zulkiffl Bare: What’s the best goal you’ve ever scored for Chelsea? It has to be the one against Barcelona or Arsenal…
Ess: The goal against Arsenal is my best goal for Chelsea because of how it went away from the goal and came back in. I smile every time I see it on TV or on the internet and I feel the same rush of adrenalin as when I scored it all those years ago. The Barcelona one was also special but it has to be the Arsenal goal for me.
Phillip Vriseno: Who’s the most frustrating player to play against?
Ess: I am sure I could think of loads but I have two in mind instantly: Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane – they were strong and had good engines which made it always difficult to face them. I played against them only a few times but they were tough games and you had to work hard constantly to stay with them.
David Falcao Bunonge: What do you think of this new Chelsea team, is it capable of doing what the old Mourinho team did?
Ess: Yes, I believe we are capable of anything if we keep working hard and gel as a team. It’s always unfair to compare teams of different eras as each team has its own characteristics. The old Mourinho team was special and mature and with time this team will be the same. Hopefully we can win more than the first Mourinho-era team.
Jack Bressington: Michael, who has been your most inspiring team-mate or club member to work with?
Ess: There have been many but I will have to say my ex-international team-mate Stephen Appiah (former Juventus & Fenerbahce player) – he is a true midfield general and a technically complete player. He inspired the most recent and current generation of Black Stars players and most of us still look up to him. He was always a joy to play with and one of my best friends as well.
Okandeji Hamed Dayo: Would you like to take a coaching role at Chelsea after retirement? Would you encourage your kids to play football?
Ess: I don’t think I will be going into coaching after football because I haven’t got the stomach to be a coach. It takes a unique type of person to be a coach and I don’t feel I am that type of person. You can never say never but I am sure coaching is not for me am afraid. My kids will be free to decide what they want to do and if that means taking up football then I will support them. As a kid I was allowed to choose what I wanted to do and I chose football. The same will apply to my kids.
Max Vine: What has been the most memorable moment of your career?
Ess: I have had a few, like captaining my country or playing with some of the best players in the world in France & England. But the most memorable will have to be anytime I score a goal and turn round to see the crowd screaming the house down. That’s a feeling you can’t recreate anywhere and any of those goals that have brought joy to the fans are the most memorable for me.
Neil Beedell: As a season ticket holder I watched you in many games dominate the ‘holding midfielder’ position and witnessed your epic left-footed volley against Barcelona which sent me crazy… in your opinion who has been the hardest attacking midfielder you played against & why… cheers for the great memories and hope there’s more to come?
Ess: Thanks for your kind words about my contribution to Chelsea. I know you asked about one player but I will like to say the whole Barcelona midfield / strike force are the hardest to play against. I was lucky enough to play a few El Clasicos when I was in Spain last season and boy they make you work hard. Pass, pass, pass – you blink and they are gone. I did well against them though but had to work extremely hard each time. Evan Bertrand: Hello Mr Bison!
Do you remember (and could you describe) when you realised that you had made it in the footballing world, when you realised football could be a successful career for you?
Ess: I will never say I have made it in football because as a player you learn new things each day and improve all the time so it’s difficult to say when I knew I had made it. The greatest players like Maradona can say they have made it but not ‘le bison’. I always knew football could take me places because I was travelling the world at the age of 17 and could feel it was going to be good but even at that age all I wanted to do was play football rather than see it as a career. Things just fell into place for me and I haven’t looked back since.
Teketel Beyene: Is there any plan you have worked on to help grow African football at the end of your football career as a player?
Ess: I will help where I can as I have a few plans of things I will do after football. I am sure I will play my part but I can’t tell you exactly what role I will play in that. We will have to wait and see.
Max Spencer Cherry: What has been the hardest part of finding form after your injuries?
Ess: Finding form after injury has not been that difficult for me at all, however it’s the rehabilitation sessions before the comeback that has always been difficult for me. As a player you are primed to play football and so sitting in the gym and watching your team-mates train and play is not fun. The doctors and physios do a great job but it’s such a slow process and without patience it can drag you down. Hopefully I won’t have to go through that again.
GazAndy Laryonda: Sport/football is full of emotion, how do you keep yourself cool and not be controlled by emotion (when you have some physical clash with other players on the pitch)?
Ess: It’s not easy but it’s all about self-control and not reacting instantly. I find if I can take two or three deep breaths, it always helps. Having said that I squared up to the Egyptian captain last month when Ghana beat Egypt 6 – 1 in a World Cup qualifier so I am not always emotionally controlled. Some players are better than others but I think it’s all about keeping calm and not reacting.
Ahmadd Fariezz: Essien, is there any player that has a similar style and skill as you?
Ess: There is only one Michael Essien and no other with the same style, Ahmadd. That’s my view anyway and I could be right or wrong but it’s difficult for me to compare myself to anyone so I will let you be the judge of that.
Jirakit Inchai: When you first came to Chelsea, who was the first player you talked to?
Ess: It has to be Didier Drogba as I knew him from France before we came to England. As a matter of fact we played against each other in France when he played for Guingamp and I played for Bastia. I always tease him that he chased me after the game to collect my shirt and out of courtesy I gave him mine (laughing).
Owenemney: What do you think of Jose now to what he was the last time he was in-charge?
Ess: I don’t think he has changed much to be honest because he still has the hunger and desire to win trophies for Chelsea. He is still funny in press conferences and has the passion that he always had. Maybe you can say he is a bit calmer than before but that’s because as we all get older, we mature and see things differently from before. Jose will always be Jose, or ‘daddy’, as you probably expect me to say!
Reiss Blunden10: Hey Essien great to have you back at Chelsea FC, what can you tell us about your time at Real Madrid with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos? And of course continuing to work with Jose at Madrid, back here at the Bridge?
Ess: Madrid was special and I loved every minute of it. The president, club officials, players and the fans were really supportive of me and did everything to make me feel at home. What a great place and great people who showed me a lot of love. Of course I am back ‘home’ at Chelsea and enjoying my life as it is with my family – feels good.
Arthur Osadebe: Which African teams do you think will go the furthest in the Brazil World Cup?
Ess: If Ghana qualify, then Ghana of course without doubt – in 2006 and 2010 we did extremely well so I expect us to go one better in 2014. Aside from Ghana, Ivory Coast has the strongest team to go far and you cannot discount the African Champions, Nigeria. Any of the five teams can go far but we have to wait and see who qualifies first.
Dan Cummings: What did you miss most about London while you were on loan?
Ess: I missed my Ghanaian Jollof rice and traditional Ghanaian soup. The food in Spain was brilliant and some of the best I have ever had however nothing beats Jollof rice and I always looked forward to coming back to London for some of that. My family used to visit me regularly so that was good but one thing I didn’t miss was the weather. The Madrid weather was lovely all the time even during the winter and that’s one thing I am starting to miss with cold weather drawing in.
Blues_cfc17: Which is your most memorable game at CFC?
Ess: I have loads of memorable games so it’s difficult to pick one. All the ones in which I scored and brought joy to the fans are memorable and I hope they were memorable for you too.
kerunikaru12321: Who’s your best friend in CFC?
Ess: I am friends with all the players at Chelsea. We are all one big family and try to support each other. @kyk_gl0x: What is your favourite place in London?
Ess: I love the Chelsea area as it has everything you need – the football grounds, restaurants and so many things you can do in that area for entertainment. I love London as a whole by the way.