The 29-year-old talks about the new crop of Black Stars, his personal ambitions and career lows
Ghana international Christian Atsu has cautioned the new faces in the Black Stars camp against complacency.
A new generation of Black Stars is on the horizon, the breed including Ajax playmaker Mohammed Kudus, Stade Rennes winger Kamaldeen Sulemana and Steadfast teenager Abdul Fatawu Issahaku.
Southampton centre-back Mohammed Salisu and Leicester City winger Kamal Sowah are also expected to soon join the Black Stars, having turned down previous invites.
“Ghanaians gave me the support and everything a country needed to give to a player. Ghanaians gave 100 percent,” 29-year-old Atsu, who burst onto the international scene as a 20-year-old Porto winger in 2012, told 3Sports.
“Now for Kudus and the other younger ones, they [Ghanaians] need to support them. It is not easy to be consistent but they must give all the support. I know Ghana is building a team now, it takes time and it is not easy but they need to be patient with them.”
“My advice to the young players is that they don’t have many chances in the Black Stars. A lot of people are fighting for positions, so when you have your chance, just take it, this is football and it is about chance.
“Everyone knows how to play football. Don’t tell yourself you are young because [Kylian] Mbappe and [Erling Braut] Haaland are young but are playing at the top level.”
Arguably, Ghana’s biggest ambition is to win the Africa Cup of Nations tournament again, having endured a series of disappointments since their last title in 1982.
In 2015, the Black Stars, inspired by Atsu, went close to ending their drought but were unlucky to give up a lead during a penalty shoot-out with Cote d’Ivoire to end up as the losing side.
“I still don’t believe we lost that tournament,” the attacker, who won the Player of the Tournament in Equatorial Guinea, said.
“That trophy was like when someone gives you something; you just take it. And today I’ll say Ghanaians are right, whatever words they say to us, we deserve it because we gave the tournament away and it was really bad.
“Until now I feel very sad that I am 29, I’m growing and I’ve still not won the Afcon title, and it’s very sad.”
“I’d say with the kind of players we have, we shouldn’t be speaking about the Black Stars not winning the Afcon for like 35 years or 36 years. It shouldn’t be possible.
“Ghana has produced a lot of top talent like Michael Essien, Muntari, Asamoah Gyan, John Mensah, Dede Ayew. It’s crazy, but this is the situation we are in.”
Atsu, who recently signed for Saudi side Al Raed, will be hoping to make the Ghana team for possibly his last quest for an Afcon title when the tournament comes around again in January.