A strong all-round box-to-box midfielder able to defend as well as create and score goals, Stephen Appiah began his career at local club Hearts of Oak in 1995, at 15 years of age. In 1996 he had trials with Galatasaray S.K.'s youth squad but was not signed and he returned to Hearts of Oak.
In 1997 he moved abroad to join Italian Serie A side Udinese. He spent three seasons with the club and while there changed from striker to midfield. A transfer to Parma in 1999 was jeopardized by viral hepatitis, but Appiah overcame the illness to move there in the summer of 2000. After two seasons at Parma, Appiah went on loan to Brescia for the 2002-03 seasons. Appiah became a first-team regular for the Lombardians, and scored seven times in 31 games.
Appiah's success at Parma alerted defending Serie A champions Juventus to his talents. Juventus paid Parma €2m in the summer of 2003 to secure Appiah's services on loan, with an option to a permanent €6M transfer in 2004. In 2003, Appiah finished 8th for African Footballer of the Year.
He went on to enjoy a good first season for Juventus, playing in 30 Serie A games and appearing in the Coppa Italia final. He also made his debut in the UEFA Champions League. In his second season at Juventus, Appiah played in 18 Serie A games.
In July 2005, he was transferred from Juventus to Turkish giants Fenerbahçe S.K. for €8M He went on to win the Turkish Super League Championship with the club in their centenary year. In January 2007 he was injured during the international duty with the Black Stars and he delayed the operation on his left knee until end of season.
At the end of the 2006–07 seasons, Appiah expressed a desire to leave and a German club made an offer of €4 million to Fenerbahçe, after Appiah's agent contacted other clubs without Fenerbahçe's permission. Fenerbahçe rejected the offer.
Injury & Contract Dispute.
After an extended knee-injury layoff, Appiah came off the bench for Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Super League on 6 October 2007. However, the injury recurred after his last game on 1 December, and Appiah went to Italy for rehabilitation on 20 December 2007. The long-term injury forced him to miss the 2008 African Cup of Nations as a player, instead, he became a special adviser of the team. Fenerbahçe also wanted to de-register Appiah as he occupied a foreigner quota, but he refused as he was unclear with the matter Appiah also refused to take rehabilitation in Turkey.
The club also thought that Appiah was actually AWOL and Appiah thought the club exposed his medical history to the press and mistreatment to his injury, although the club defended that it had made an appointment for Appiah to visit Mayo Clinic, United States, but Appiah did not attend. On 1 February 2008, Appiah formally submitted a claim of mistreatment by asking to leave as free agent on 1 July 2008 and received the pre-agreed 2008–09 season salary of €2 million in response, Fenerbahçe notified FIFA. In April the case went to FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC), and both parties sued each other.
He unilaterally terminated the contract at the end of season, as he thought the club had breached the contract by not fulfilling its duties.DRC ordered Appiah to pay Fenerbahçe €2,281,915 as he breached the contract without just cause on 9 January 2009. He immediately appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in May after received the decision on 5 May 2009 and the club also submitted its appeal. On 7 June 2010 CAS ruled that Appiah did not need to pay Fenerbahçe, as Fenerbahçe saved more in wages (€2,633,020.65) than losses (€2,496,278.85).
Serie A Return
Appiah was on trial with London based football team Tottenham in January 2009 with a view to a 6-month permanent contract, however concerns over his knee and fitness resulted in no contract being offered, as Spurs took up the option of signing Wilson Palacios from Wigan instead. The following month Appiah underwent a trial at FC Rubin Kazan, but the Russian champions decided against signing the player because of the same fitness concerns. Despite being without a club since his departure from Fenerbahçe in June 2008, Appiah remained a regular with the national team throughout the 2008–09 seasons.
On November 1, 2009 Bologna announced the signing of Appiah on a free transfer, worth just €200,000 net per season Poor form caused by his long inactivity, together with a number of recurring injuries, prevented him from appearing with the first team throughout the season, and he made his debut in a Bologna shirt only on May 9, 2010, as a half-time substitute during a league game versus Catania.
On 7 August 2010, Appiah signed for newly-promoted Italian Serie A side Cesena on a one-year deal with the option of another year if the club stays in the top flight.
Appiah has appeared with the Ghana National Team at the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Championship, the 1997 and 1999 World Youth Championships, the 2004 Olympic tournament, and the 2006 FIFA World Cup where the team reached the second round. During Ghana's third game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Appiah powered in a penalty kick against the United States to send the Black Stars to the second round Appiah was also included in Ghana's squad for the World Cup in South Africa.
In Ghana's first game at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Appiah came on as a substitute to help the squad to a 1-0 victory over Serbia; thus helping the Black Stars go top of their group He did not play in the next 2 group stage games against Australia and Germany. He played again on June 26 against United States in the round of 16, which Ghana won 2-1 after extra time.
Appiah has designed a clothing line named StepApp that was released in late November in his hometown of Accra. All proceeds go to the StepApp foundation The clothing line will initially be released in Africa before arriving in Europe and the United States in the following months.