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Essien set to receive BBC award

By Ibrahim Sannie

BBC Sport, Accra

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien will receive his 2006 BBC African Footballer of the Year Award in Accra on Monday.

The Chelsea ace won the award in January in a vote cast by listeners of the BBC World Service's African sports programme Fast Track.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is in no doubt that Essien deserves the award.

"I didn't make Essien Africa's most expensive player, but nobody regrets the money Chelsea spent he's a high-performance player," he said.

"People like to speak about Essien because they think he is a great football player but I prefer to say that he is a great man.

"We're very happy to have him with us and I think Ghana should be very proud about him not just because he is a great player but also he has got good behaviour which is good for society."

Both Mourinho and Essien are in Ghana on a charity visit.

The 25-year-old midfielder adds his name to the roll of honour that includes Ghana's Sammy Kuffour, Senegal's El Hadji Diouf and Nigeria's Jay Jay Okocha, who won the award twice.

Egyptian Mohammed Barakat was the first north African to win the award after clinching the 2005 trophy.

Fast Track presenter Farayi Mungazi is also in Accra to organize the presentation of the award to Essien.

"We at the BBC take pride in this award because it is the only one decided exclusively by the fans," Mungazi explained.

In a live public vote in January, Essien received nearly twice as many votes as Ahly and Egypt playmaker Mohamed Aboutrika and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba.

For the first time in the history of the prize, the winner was decided live during the BBC World Service's flagship African sports programme Fast Track.

The BBC award took into account the football calendar from January to December 2006 and includes domestic leagues, continental club competitions and international matches.

Story from BBC SPORT:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/sport1 ... 714879.stm

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