By Ameenu Shardow
DR Congo coach Claude Leroy is claiming credit for making Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan a better player.
The 26-year-old played under the Frenchman during his reign as head coach of the Black Stars between 2006-2008.
Gyan endured one of the major lows in his career in 2008 during the Africa Cup of Nations that was hosted on home soil.
The then-Udinese striker threatened to storm out of the Ghana camp following intense criticisms and insults meted him for his poor performance at that tournament.
But Leroy and other Ghana FA officials persuaded him to stay to help the Black Stars win an eventual bronze medal.
Gyan has gone on from that experience to become one of the most feared strikers on the continent.
His quality was made vaguely evident during the 2010 World Cup where his goals took the Black Stars to an historic quarter final finish – barring the heartbreaking penalty miss against Uruguay.
And Leroy who will be coming up against Ghana at next year’s Nations Cup as coach of Congo DR says he is responsible for the rise of the new Black Stars captain.
“I made Gyan a better player; I am the one who encouraged him to stay focused when Ghanaians were insulting him,” he said.
“Now I hear he is captain of the team and I am proud of him.”
Leroy’s comments is however deemed in certain quarters as one of his numerous verbal machinations to distract the Ghana team and its key players – some of which he unearthed during his time as Black Stars coach.
The French coach who has vast experience of the African game has been saying good things about Ghana, its coach; Akwasi Appiah and players ahead of the January 20th showdown in Port Elizabeth.
The same tactic was used to beat the Black Stars by his compatriot Herve Renard at the 2012 Nations Cup.
The Zambian coach ironically was also involved with the Black Stars as an assistant coach during Leroy’s reign.