Abedi Pele was the first recipient of this award in 1992.
The African continent has been a serious hotspot of talented footballers through the years. Despite the lack of exposure in their home continent, many footballers have moved to Europe and made their mark in the European Leagues for many a big clubs. The likes of Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o went on to become household names all over the world.
The African Footballer of the Year award is given to the best African player of a calendar year. The award was introduced by the Confederation of African Football in 1992. Prior to the African Footballer of the Year award, the Golden Ball award was presented by France Football magazine from 1970 to 1994. Sadio Mane won the 2022 African Footballer of the year award. Here is a list of 10 players with the most African Footballer of the Year awards.
10. Sadio Mane (2 times)
Sadio Mane is the latest winner of the African Footballer of the Year when he finished above his then Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah in 2019. The Senegalese forward also recently won the African Cup of Nation in 2021 where he was named the Man of the tournament. Mane has been very influential in his nation’s rise in the world football scenario in recent years. The African cup of Nations victory was his country’s first ever. Senegal have also qualified for the 2022 World Cup, marking their third appearance in the tournament and twice in a row for the first time in their history. Mane won the 2022 African Player of the year award.
9. El Hadji Diouf( 2 times)
Another Senegalese to play for Liverpool, Diouf has established himself in the Premier League and the French League (Ligue 1) during his career. The forward has played for the likes of Rennes, Lens and Bolton Wanderers among others. The controversial Senegalese star was the main man for Senegal when they qualified for their first ever World Cup back in 2002. Notably, he was also included in the World Cup All star team. Diouf has won the African Footballer of the Year award two years in a row – 2001 and 2002.
8. Nwanku Kanu( 2 times)
Kanu has enjoyed a prolific career in Europe playing for several big teams in the process. The Nigerian was a member of Arsenal’s “Invincibles”. He was also a part of the Ajax team that won the Champions League in 1995. In the international level, the forward won the Gold Medal in the 1996 Olympics with Nigeria and also represented the country in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups. Kanu won the African Footballer of the Year award twice, once in 1996 and the second time in 1999.
7. Mohamed Salah (2 times)
Mohamed Salah is one of the best forwards of the present times. The Liverpool winger has been a force to reckon with after joining the club from Merseyside. Salah has won the Premier League, the Champions League, the Premier League Golden Boot and has finished third for the Best FIFA Men’s player award twice, in 2018 and 2021. Apart from that, Salah was also instrumental in Egypt’s qualification in the 2018 World Cup. The 30-year-old missed out on winning the African Cup of Nations in 2021 after losing the final against Senegal. The Egyptian has won the African Footballer of the Year award on successive occasions in 2017 and 2018. Apart from that, he also finished second to Sadio Mane in 2019.
6. Roger Milla (2 times)
Roger Milla was one of the first African players to make it big in the International stage. He had a very long career that lasted almost 30 years. Milla came into prominence in the 1990 World Cup where he scored 4 goals at the age of 38 making him the oldest player to score in the World Cup. His performance saw Cameroon become the first African team to reach the Quarter Finals of a World Cup. Milla broke his own record in the 1994 World Cup when he scored again. Notably, the forward has won the award twice. In addition to that, he finished second on two occasions and third once.
5. Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba is one of the best African players to have ever played in the Premier League. The Chelsea legend has won multiple Premier Leagues and a Champions League as well. Apart from Chelsea, the striker has also played for the likes of Marseille and Galatasaray among others. Drogba played an instrumental role in Ivory Coast’s first ever World Cup qualification in 2006 and also scored the country’s first-ever goal in the prestigious event. The forward has won the African Footballer of the Year award twice, one in 2006 and the other in 2009. Other than that, he has finished as the runner up in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2012.
4. Abedi Pele (3 times)
Abedi Pele is considered one of the best African players of all times. The Ghanaian has played all across Europe but the majority of his career was based in France. The attacking midfielder has also won the Champions League among other titles. Although Pele made 73 appearances for Ghana, he never managed to play in a World Cup. The player has won the African Footballer of the Year thrice.
3. George Weah( 3 times)
George Weah is still the only player to win the FIFA player of the Year award while representing an African nation internationally. The Liberian had a career that spanned all across Europe. He represented some of the biggest teams like AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City among others. He was the top-scorer of the 1994/95 edition of the UEFA Champions League. Representing Liberia, Weah never got the chance to feature in a World Cup. However, he helped his nation to qualify for the African Cup of Nations twice. George Weah has won the award three times in his career.
2. Yaya Toure (4 times)
Yaya Toure is one of the best African players of the 21st century. In his career, he has played both as a defender and a midfielder and was successful in both these positions. Toure was a pivotal member of Manchester City’s recent rise to success and was part of the club’s dramatic Premier League win in 2012. He went on to win many more titles with City. Apart from City, Toure has also played for Barcelona among other clubs. The player represented Ivory Coast in three World Cups and six African Cup of Nations. The midfielder holds the record of most African Footballer of the Year awards with four wins alongside Samuel Eto’o.
1. Samuel Eto’o (4 times)
As mentioned earlier, Samuel Eto’o holds the record of four awards alongside Yaya Toure. However, he features above his former Barcelona teammate because he was named a runner up twice and made two third place finishes. Eto’o had a prolific career in Europe where he won multiple League titles and Champions League. He is the only player to win two back to back trebles. Internationally, Eto’o has represented Cameroon in numerous World Cups. He had also featured in the African League of Nations multiple times. The forward won an Olympic Gold Medal with his country in 2000.
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**The article was last updated on August 10, 2022.
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