Italy-born Emmanuel Gyasi may have fulfilled his childhood dream of playing for the Black Stars of Ghana but he already has a new one to chase.

The 27-year-old, who plays for Italian Serie A side Spezia Calcio, made his international debut on 25th March in Ghana’s 1-1 draw with South Africa in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.

He has now set his sights firmly on being a permanent member of the squad for the AFCON finals in Cameroon next year and helping his country end a 30-year AFCON drought.

“My childhood dream has always been wearing the Ghana national team shirt,” he told BBC Sport Africa.

“I wanted to become a football player and play for Ghana. I never had a doubt about it.

“In the past, I had two idols in our national team: Stephen Appiah and Asamoah Gyan. They were great, I used to love them and watch all of their games.”

Unconditional love for Ghana

Gyasi was born in the Italian city of Palermo in 1994 but was then raised in Ghana by his grandparents until he was 11 when he returned to Italy.

He is grateful for life between both – Africa and Europe.

“I went to Ghana as I was a small child and I lived there with my grandparents and my uncle,” he explained.

“It was a great experience for me, it allowed me to know my origins and the culture of my country. When I then moved back to Italy, I kept feeling Ghana was very close to me.

“Although I was born in Italy and I feel very comfortable here, my land of origin is Ghana. My bond to Ghana has never vanished or diminished throughout the years.

“Those are my origins. That is my motherland. It’s something indelible in my heart.”

Gyasi Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus and Emmanuel Gyasi of Spezia Calcio. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)

The next dream

His first dream to play for Ghana was completed earlier this year when coach CK Akonnor named Gyasi in his squad for the final two 2021 AFCON qualifiers against South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe.

“There had been some speculations about me, but I had never spoken to anyone from the Ghana Football Association (GFA) before (the call-up),” he explained.

“Then I was finally called up! Ghana is an important football country in Africa, with thousands of good players. I am very proud of myself.”

Ghana are four-time African champions but have not won the title since 1982, instead, they have lost three finals since then and reached the semifinals on another five occasions.

Having fulfilled a personal dream, Gyasi’s next dream is one held by every Ghana football fan.

“Ghana are a strong national team, a good mix of interesting young prospects and more experienced players. The manager and his staff are very prepared too,” he explained.

“Ghana have played several World Cups and Africa Cups of Nations – our dream and that of our fans is to win the trophy.

“We know it won’t be easy and we will have to think game by game, but we’ll go there to make our dreams come true. We have to believe in ourselves.

“I met Alfred Duncan and Kwadwo Asamoah (the only other Ghana internationals in Serie A) when we played against Cagliari, we had a nice chat after the final whistle and they gave me some advice, I want to thank them for this.”

A source of inspiration for Gyasi to continue striving to develop is Juventus and Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the leading scorer in Serie A currently.

“Cristiano Ronaldo has won everything and still has the same determination – he is an example – every child, who wants to become a football player, should follow,” Gyasi said.

“This year we faced each other on the pitch, we talked and we swapped shirts. I would normally see him on TV and all of a sudden he was there, standing in front of me. It was an incredible emotion, I can’t even explain it.”

With that source of inspiration for Gyasi, Ghana’s future could be a bright one with him in it.