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Asamoah Gyan writes his history, breaks our hearts

Ghana team members console Ghana's Asamoah Gyan at

Ghana team members console Ghana's Asamoah Gyan at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Uruguay and Ghana at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday. Uruguay reached the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1970, beating Ghana 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw. (July 2, 2010) Credit: AP

Asamoah Gyan today became the poster boy for half of an age-old sports cliché.

Here's a hint: It's not "the thrill of victory."

Gyan was building quite a resumé at the 2010 World Cup that included game-winning plays, a delicate touch, an insatiable appetite for offense and calm strikes from the penalty spot.

He'll be remembered for none of that.

Instead, the image of Gyan clutching his teammate, shaking, with tears streaming down his face will be replayed on television sets around the globe until somebody -- somehow -- finds away to lose a game the way he did July 2, 2010.

Gyan, Ghana's 24-year-old striker, was given the chance of a lifetime to deliver a "walkoff" goal in today's quarterfinal against Uruguay. After Uruguay's Luis Suarez swiped the ball off the goal line in the final minutes of extra time and was subsequently red carded, it was Gyan that took the ball -- like he had twice before in the tournament -- and placed it on the penalty spot with virtually no time left of the clock.

A few seconds and a couple hundred heartbeats later, Gyan's shot lofted toward goal, skimmed over the crossbar and sailed into the speechless crowd. Ghana's trip to the World Cup semifinals -- a first for an African nation -- was postponed.

Nine kicks later, it was canceled.

Even the most fervent of American soccer fans, who watched Gyan shoot the U.S. out of the World Cup less than a week earlier, sympathized with Gyan and Ghana supporters that moment. It was, perhaps, the most heart-wrenching loss in World Cup history.

Gyan's miss-heard-round-the-world overshadows his gutsy goal in the penalty shootout. Unfair? Life isn't. Minutes after his walkoff whiff, Gyan netted Ghana's first goal in the shootout with a picture perfect blast into the top right corner of the net.

The adage of "What have you done for me lately?" did not apply.

"Why couldn't you do that before?" was unfortunately more appropriate.

Gyan played 502 minutes at the World Cup, yet he'll be remembered for one. The pain etched on his face will be synonymous with the agony of defeat for years to come.

New York Sports