Michael Essien began his national team careerwith Ghana at the u-17 level as part of the team that represented the Gold Coast nation at the 1999 edition of the FIFA Men’s u-17 World Cup in New Zealand. Essien and his Ghanaian teammates finished third at the end of the tournament. He was one of the youngest players when he played for the u-20 team at the 2001 FIFA Men’s u-20 World Cup in Argentina. His performances in Argentina attracted a lot of attention and the midfielder was earmarked for a big future. Ghana finished second behind hosts Argentina at the end of the tournament.

Essien made his competitive debut for the Ghanaian senior team during the game with Morocco at the 2002 edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament. His first competitive game for the Black Stars of Ghana took place on January 21, 2002. He had earlier made his debut in a pre-tournament friendly against the Pharaohs of Egypt on January 4, 2002.

Michael Essien tasted the FIFA World Cup tournament for the first time as part of the 23-man Ghana squad to the 2006 edition in Germany. He was part of a strong midfield trio alongside skipper Stephen Appiah and Sulley Muntari. Ghana lost 2-0 to eventual winners Italy, beat Czech Republic 2-0 and then saw off the United States of America via a 2-1 scoreline to emerge as the only African team in the round of 16. Michael Essien was however suspended for the round of 16 clash with Brazil. He could only watch as Ghana exited the tournament with a 3-0 defeat to the Brazilians.

Ghanaian midfielder Essien went on to represent his country in reversal major tournaments before he called time on his international career a couple of years ago. He scored nine goals in 59 games for the Ghanaian senior team.