Asamoah Gyan has told L'Equipe he does not blame Luis Suarez for denying Ghana a 2010 World Cup semifinal place even if the Liverpool broke his World Cup dreams.
Suarez handled a goalbound header during the two nations' quarterfinal encounter at Soccer City, earning himself a red card. However, Gyan clipped the top of the crossbar with the resulting penalty as Ghana were eventually prevented from becoming the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup with Uruguay winning the penalty shootout.
Suarez's actions earned him criticism from around the world, but Gyan acknowledged he would have had the same reaction.
"He's a hero in his country. He stopped the ball with his hand, he stopped Ghana from qualifying. He had to to qualify for the semifinals. That's football. On one side, there's a hero, on the other, a ruined man. That's the story of sport," Gyan said.
"In the end, he was right. In my country, people hate him, but I'm a footballer and I know if I had been in his place, I would have done the same. After that, he could take a lap of honour and I was left to cry. It was up to me to write history, and I didn't do it."
He added: "It was cheating, but Suarez saved his country. We have to accept it."
After the disappointment of South Africa, Gyan moved to Sunderland from French club Rennes, and soon came face-to-face with the man who had cruelly smashed his and his compatriots' dreams.
"We have the same job. We looked at each other and we understood each other, even if people on the outside struggle to understand that," said Gyan, who captained the Black Stars in their Group G defeat to the USA on Monday.
"I will never forget, but that missed penalty has made me stronger as a man. Even if it's one of the saddest moments I've endured, I've grown, matured. I've not been the same since."
He did struggle to overcome his spot-kick miss in Johannesburg though. His spell at Sunderland was underwhelming as he battled with his shattered confidence, and he soon moved to Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.
The once highly rated forward has refound his scoring touch in the UAE, and also finished as Africa's leading scorer in qualifying for the finals in Brazil, even if the demons of four years ago remain.
"I must admit that when I'm alone, that image haunts me sometimes. Above all, I'm happy to have continued my career and carried on scoring," said the ex-Udinese man, who acknowledged the importance of the penalty he converted in his team's shootout loss.
"If I hadn't taken it, it would have been the end of my career. The pain was such that I had to overcome it, pick myself up. That successful penalty has had an immense impact on the rest of my career. It was a great relief for me."