Former Ghana right-back John Paintsil has praised the role played by Stephen Appiah during his Black Stars career, and particularly, for the way in which he handled his brief at the 2010 World Cup.
The experienced midfielder had been an undisputed starter for the West Africans during the 2006 tournament in Germany, when Ghana made their first World Cup appearance and reached the Last 16.
However, by the time 2010 rolled around, and beset by frequent injuries, Appiah was dropped to the bench by coach Milovan Rajevac.
Remembering the midfielder’s impact in South Africa, the ex-full-back has lauded his former teammate for the role he played in that run to the quarter-finals.
“In our captain Stephen Appiah, we had a very instrumental leader,” Paintsil told Goal. “He was a senior figure, and was motivating all of us.
“He played a really good role, and even though he was coming [into games] from the bench, he didn’t show any sign that looked like he was a bit angry or upset or disappointed not to be starting as team captain.”
With Rajevac opting to use Appiah from the bench, John Mensah wore the armband for Ghana’s first and last group-stage games, with Richard Kingson taking the captaincy for the second match—the draw against Australia.
“[Appiah] was always there, talking to us, and telling us to do well,” Paintsil continued, “and when he got his [playing] time, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, he was the best.
“This is the kind of leader you can always count on, he could have just come and said: ‘I was captain in 2006 but now I’m not starting,’ but he didn’t say such a thing.
“He was there, behaved himself as a leader, carried himself as a captain, and was also a team player, so it was great working with him and playing with him.”
Despite not starting a single game in South Africa, Appiah nonetheless played an important role for Ghana as they became only the third team to reach the quarter-finals.
He was introduced from the bench in the opening victory against Serbia, and also entered late on against the United States—in the Round of 16—and against Uruguay in the quarter-final, as Ghana’s adventure ended on penalties.
That dramatic elimination represented the end of Appiah’s international career, as the former Juventus man was never called by the Black Stars again, and ended his Ghana tenure on 67 appearances.