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Top 10 greatest African Footballers of all-time

Aditya PahariaAditya Paharia

February 11 2022
African footballers
(Courtesy : Footy Renders/The Sun)

These players have won trophies and created records for both clubs and countries.

Football is majorly dominated by Europe or European players. But, let us not forget the significant contribution from the African continent. Over the years, Africa has given world football some iconic players, who have produced magic for their respective clubs and country. African football is filled with depth and talent.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 greatest African footballers who have inspired millions from around the globe:

10. Essam El-Hadary (Egypt)

Popularly known as “The High Dam,” the goalkeeper is certainly one of Egypt’s most decorated players and one of the greatest African footballers of all time. He made his debut for the Pharaohs in 1996. He has won four African Cup of Nations titles with them, with three of those coming in successive years (2006, 2008 and 2010).

At the age of 45, he became the oldest player to play in a FIFA World Cup match. It was at the 2018 edition in Russia, with the match being played against Saudi Arabia. He won the Egyptian league eight times with Al Ahly. He also won the league title in Sudan with Al-Merreikh.

9. Abedi Ayew ‘Pele’ (Ghana)

Ayew won the AFCON title with Ghana in 1982 (Courtesy: SportMob)

Abedi Ayew played in the attacking midfield role. He won the AFCON title with the Black Stars in 1982. A decade later, he was also announced as the Player of the Tournament. Unfortunately, Ghana lost that final on penalties to the Ivory Coast. He won Ligue 1 with Marseille for three consecutive years in 1991,1992 and 1993 (last title scrapped due to a scandal).

The midfielder also won the UEFA Champions League with them in 1993, beating AC Milan. He was declared the Man of the Match in that final. The Ghanaian also won the African Footballer of the Year award thrice.

8. Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

Nicknamed as “The Tall Introvert,” Yaya Toure tasted success both at international as well as club level. He led the Ivory Coast to victory at AFCON 2015. Toure has also won the league titles with elite clubs such as FC Barcelona and Manchester City. He has a Champions League to his name with the Spanish giants. He is definetely one of the greatest African footballers of all time.

The midfielder also won the African Footballer of the Year award four times. Toure was known for his strength, vision and goalscoring instinct. Infact, in the 2013-14 season he scored 20 league goals for Manchester City, which is an incredible achievement for a defensive midfielder.

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7. Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)

Kanu was an integral part of the 2003-04 Arsenal squad (Courtesy: RT)

The Nigerian represented his nation at three World Cups. Kanu has an Olympic gold medal to his name but unfortunately, he could never win the African Cup of Nations. He won the Eredivisie title thrice and Champions League once with Ajax. The striker was also a part of the 2003-04 Arsenal squad managed by Arsene Wenger, which is popularly known as ‘The Invincibles.’

Despite all this success, he had to experience relegation with Portsmouth in the latter stages of his career. He also won the African Footballer of the Year award twice.

6. Roger Milla (Cameroon)

The Cameroon international was recognized as the second greatest African player in the last 100 years by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). He has significant contributions in making history with Cameroon. He helped them reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, making them the first African team to play in that round.

At the age of 42, he scored against Russia, making him the oldest goalscorer at the World Cup. He also won The African Footballer of the Year award twice. The striker was also instrumental in guiding Cameroon to two AFCON titles in 1984 and 1988.

5. Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Coming from the remote village of Bambali, very few can achieve what Sadio Mane has done in his career. Playing for FC Metz, the winger came into recognition at RB Salzburg. His performances attracted Southampton, who paid £10m for his services. In 2016, Jugen Klopp brought him to Anfield and the rest is history.

He won the Champions League with the Merseyside club in 2019. In the same year, he shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Senegalese was instrumental in ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for the Premier League title as well. Mane was also a part of the Senegal team that won the AFCON in 2022. He is thus one of the most decorated African footballers of all time

4. Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Salah is one of the few African footballers to shine in the Premier League (Courtesy: Sports Moments)

Mohamed Salah can easily be considered as one of the best Africans to have played this beautiful game. After being cast out by Chelsea on multiple loan moves and then a permanent transfer to AS Roma, the winger has been consistently proving himself. His transfer to Liverpool has been no less than a dream.

Since his arrival, he has won the Premier League and Champions League. He has also won the Golden Boot twice in 2017-18 and 2018-19, scoring 32 and 22 goals respectively. Salah was also awarded the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 2018.

3. Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Didier Drogba was a part of Chelsea’s golden generation, which included players such as Frank Lampard, John Terry and Petr Cech. Chelsea fans can never forget the 2012 Champions League final in Munich. Drogba’s late header levelled the game and his decisive penalty won them their first Champions League title against all odds.

He also won four Premier League titles with the London club. The striker was also the highest goalscorer in the 2006/07 and 2009/10 Premier League seasons. Though he did not win any international titles with the Ivory Coast, he was awarded with the African Footballer of the Year title twice. He thus remains one of the most decorated African footballers of all time

2. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Samuel Eto’o is one of the greatest African footballers of all time (Courtesy: Eurosport)

The former Cameroon international needs no introduction. Along with Yaya Toure, Samuel Eto’o also won the African Footballer of the Year award four times. His achievements include an Olympic gold in the year 2000, three Champions League titles (two with Barcelona and one with Inter Milan) and scored in two finals.

Eto’o also won three league titles with Barcelona and one with Inter Milan. He played a crucial role in Barcelona’s 2008-09 season, when they won the treble. The striker is AFCON’s and Cameroon’s highest goalscorer of all-time. Eto’o strength and pace made him a lethal striker.

1- George Weah (Liberia)

There was absolutely no doubt about our No. 1. George Weah stands as the only African player to have won the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1995. In the same year, he was crowned as the European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year.

Along with his two Serie A titles with AC Milan, the Liberian also won the FA Cup with Chelsea and Ligue 1 with PSG. He is a two-time African Footballer of the Year and was recognized by IFFHS as the greatest African player of the 20th century. He is currently the President of his nation, which is another feather in his cap.

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