Ex-Ghana captain Stephen Appiah has revealed that he had to overcome intense pressure to score his penalty against the USA during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
The Black Stars made their debut appearance at the World Cup in 2006 and were paired in the same group with Italy, the Czech Republic and the USA.
Having lost to Italy in their opening group game, Ghana defeated the Czech Republic in the next match to keep their chance of progression alive.
Ratomir Dujkovic’s side, therefore, needed to beat the Americans in their final group game to secure a place in the round of 16.
Ghana opened the scoring in the 22nd minute through Haminu Dramani, but Clint Dempsey equalised for the USA in the 42nd minute.
With a minute left to half-time, the Black Stars were awarded a penalty after Mathew Amoah was brought down in the penalty box.
Appiah stepped up and scored to give Ghana a 2-1 lead. That goal ended up being the winner, as the West Africans progressed to the round of 16 of the World Cup.
Almost 15 years after scoring that famous penalty, Appiah has disclosed that he was under intense pressure before taking the kick.
The former Juventus and Fenerbahce joked that he lost five kilograms of weight before scoring from the spot.
“It’s always difficult to take penalties. Against the USA, a minute to half time we got a penalty and I had to take it,” said on Joy News, while on Euro 2020 punditry duty.
“It was very difficult because this is a situation that everybody was looking at you. And when you think about home; [the pressure from] Ghanaians, the streets and families.
“I lost like five kilos on the spot. You see, working under coaches like Arrigo Sacchi, Fabio Capello, Marcello Lippi and the rest, [they tell you] when you’re taking a penalty, just target one place and hit the ball there. So that’s what I did and I buried the ball that day.”
Appiah was a stalwart for the Black Stars and was the first-ever captain to lead Ghana to qualify for the World Cup in 2006.
In an international career that spanned over a decade, the 40-year-old made 67 appearances and scored 14 goals.