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From zero to hero

RUSTENBURG, June 21- Two years ago Asamoah Gyan was on the point of retiring from international football. On Sunday he was thanking his lucky stars he didn't do so as he basked in the glory of his goals putting Ghana on the verge of a place in the last 16 of the World Cup.The 24-year-old scored his second penalty in as many games in the 1-1 draw against Australia to give the African side four points and top spot in their group ahead of the final round of matches where they play Germany and Australia take on Serbia.

The celebratory and joyous ‘Asamoah Dance’ that follows his goals is a far cry from the despair he felt during a disastrous Africa Cup of Nations tournament in 2008 where along with his elder brother Baffour Gyan they threatened to quit during the tournament but Asamoah was persuaded by his team-mates to stay.

However, despite his contributions in the first two games – where he and the son of Abedi Pele Andre Ayew have stood out more than made up for the absence of the injured Michael Essien – he says he will not let it go to his head.

"This tournament could well be a turning point for me," said Gyan.

"However, I am not going to get all big-headed about it."

Gyan had a similarly starring role initially in Ghana’s appearance at the 2006 finals where he scored the fastest goal of that edition in the 68th second against the Czech Republic.

However, he was to tarnish his image in the second round match against Brazil as he was sent-off for diving.

Gyan, though, has constantly shown he is a resilient character and after enduring a disastrous first season at French First Division side Rennes, which yielded just a solitary goal, he has rebounded from it in style.

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"Injuries affect not only performances, but also one’s confidence," recalled Gyan.

"It was a difficult time."

The 2009-10 season, though, has been an entirely different story indeed almost one of redemption for Asamoah, as he scored three of their four goals and almost singlehandedly inspired an inexperienced Ghana side to their first Africa Cup of Nations final in 18 years.

He repeated that form for Rennes as well and returned a healthy 13 goals, the majority in the second-half of the season, leaving him in the ideal state of mind to assume his role as their creative leader for the ‘Black Stars’ here.

"I am mentally in a great state, because I played well for my club," he said.

Gyan is perhaps beginning to live up to the description of him by former Ghana coach Claude Le Roy as a mix between ‘Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o’ but he refuses to go along with such lofty praise and as to whether he will develop into as great a player as either of them.

"I do not believe in predictions," he said

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