Former AS Roma and Ghana midfielder Barusso hails ‘inspirational’ Chelsea legend Essien 

The ex-Nania FC player has nothing but kind words about his former international colleague 

Former AS Roma midfielder Ahmed Apimah Barusso reveals he took inspiration from erstwhile Chelsea ace and former international team-mate Michael Essien in reaching the elite stage.

After years in the Italian lower divisions, the former Nania FC man earned his big break in 2007 when he signed for Roma from Serie B side Rimini.

His breakthrough, together with a fine start at Stadio Olimpico, secured him a place in Ghana’s squad for the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) where he played together with Essien.

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“I was always arguing with my coach at Rimini. He told me I had to break into the national team set up and be like Michael Essien,” Barusso, whose career was weighed down by injuries, told CitiSports.

“Anytime Chelsea was playing that season, he would tell me to stop everything I was doing and watch the game and take notes on Essien’s performance.

”Michael Essien was a very great player at the time, and we played in a similar position.

”I had no choice but to watch because if I wasn’t able to answer his questions the following day, I’d be in trouble.”

Essien, currently on the books of Azerbaijani fold Sabail, remains one of the most accomplished Ghanaian footballers.

The 37-year-old won the Ligue 1 title twice during his time with French giants Lyon.

After moving to Chelsea in 2005, he helped the Blues win the league in 2005-06 and 2009-10, lifted the FA Cup four times, the League Cup once, the Community Shield once and the Uefa Champions League in 2011-12.

Ahead of the start of the 2012-13 season, the Ghanaian joined Spanish giants Real Madrid on a season-long loan deal, reuniting with former manager Jose Mourinho.

After the Madrid stint, Essien would return to make five league appearances at Stamford Bridge before joining AC Milan on a permanent deal in 2014.

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The Accra-born played for Bastia in France after leaving Ghanaian outfit Liberty Professionals. He was also on the books of Greek outfit Panathinaikos in 2015-16.

At international level, the utility man was among the group that qualified Ghana to their first-ever Fifa World Cup tournament in 2006, going ahead to play at the final tournament.

He also laced his boots for the Black Stars at the 2014 World Cup after missing the 2010 edition due to injury.

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