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.
Essam El-Hadary (Egypt)
Essam El- Hadary is 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 Egypt 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.
Abedi Ayew ‘Pele’ (Ghana)
He played as an attacking midfielder for Ghana. 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 Ivory Coast. He won Ligue 1 with Marseille for three consecutive years in 1991,1992 and 1993. Abedi Ayew Pele has 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.
Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)
Yaya Toure is also known as the " Tall Introvert", he played for the ivory coast. Toure tasted success both at the 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 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. In fact, 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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Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)
Nwankwo Kanu represented his national football team three times in the world cup. He has won 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.’ He also won the African Footballer of the Year award twice.
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 to 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.
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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. 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 were instrumental in ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for the Premier League title as well.
Mohamed Salah (Egypt)
Mohamed Salah can easily be considered 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.
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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. 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 the African Footballer of the Year title twice.
Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)
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.
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