Former Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has joined Panathinaikos on a two-year deal. The 32-year-old moves to Greece as a free agent after his 18-month contract with AC Milan expired. He was out of contract after his contract at the San Siro and has been quickly snapped up by the Super League runners-up. The club has officially announced that Esseins has signed a two-year contract.
The Ghana international was a two-time Premier League winner and four-time FA Cup winner during a nine-year association with Chelsea, during which he also spent time on loan at Real Madrid where he was reunited with Jose Mourinho. Essien was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of about 800 supporters on his arrival at Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport earlier on Tuesday before he passed a medical.
“I did not expect such a reception,” he said. “When I saw the fans, it was a great pleasure for me to see that they came out to greet me. It was incredible. I want to thank them and I will do everything I can to repay them.”
Essien is a midfielder who has often been touted as a box-to-box midfielder for his ability to exert energy in supporting offensive and defensive play and for his tough tackling style which has earned him the nickname ‘The Bison’. In 2005, Essien signed with Chelsea for a fee of £24.4 million and, at the time of his signing, was the most expensive African footballer in history. At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League in 2006 and 2010, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup.
“I am very happy to be here and I’m very much looking forward to starting my new career with Panathinaikos,” the 32-year-old Essien told reporters. “I am looking forward to meet my new team and win trophies with my new team-mates. I want to give back the love that everyone has shown me and to thank the fans that welcomed me so warmly.”
His time at Milan was interrupted by injury and he was restricted to 22 appearances. Essien ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus, and received surgery in 2011. His recovery was said to take up to six months, and now he is back with his new club with full health and confidence.
“I am a winner and I have come to Greece to win more trophies and to do whatever I can for my new team,” said the Ghanaian.