The sport of football famously styled as “the Beautiful Game” is the most popular sport in the world. The allure is in the passion it evokes, its riveting intrigue, the nail-biting suspense, and the raucous celebration that comes after a crucial goal.
Typically, when we mention the biggest names in football, big European and South American names like Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar comes to mind. However, Africa has and is home to a huge crop of players that have had an impact on the beautiful game of football.
From the club level, the national team’s level, or continental level, Africa is well-represented in football. The current class of talents such as Sadio Mane, Riyad Mahrez, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, and Mohammed Salah are dominating the English Premier League (EPL) with great stats.
This talented crop of African footballers has arguably put Africa on the global map!
Meanwhile, here are the top African footballers of all time, as compiled by The East African:
Samuel Eto’o – Cameroon
No African player matches what Samuel Eto’o achieved while in his prime. At the continental and national level, he won four African Player of the Year awards, won Olympic gold for his country in 2000, and helped Cameroon win two Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles. At club level, he played for top clubs including Barcelona, Chelsea, and Inter Milan. He scored 130 goals for Barcelona, won a treble in the 2008/09 season with them, and also won two UEFA Champions League with the Catalans. He also won another UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan in addition to FIFA Club World Cup.
George Weah – Liberia
He is the current Liberia president. Yes, you got that right! Aside from leading his country, George Weah also led on the pitch having played for top clubs such as Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan. He stands as the only African footballer to win the Ballon d’Or in 1995. The same year, he also won the FIFA World Player of the Year. He scored over 200 goals in his career helping PSG to win its title in 1994 and also winning two Serie A titles with AC Milan. He also won three African Player of the Year awards.
Didier Drogba – Ivory Coast
‘Drogbaaaaa’ was an iconic commentary and you had no doubts the ball would be in the back of the net. He needs no introduction. The former Chelsea man was a predator in the 18-yard box. He ranks as one of the deadliest EPL strikers in history with over 300 goals in his whole professional career. He won two African Player of the Year awards and on a club level, Drogba won one UEFA Champions League title, four EPL titles, three English League cups, and two Community Shields. To add to his collection, he won an EPL golden boot and was twice named in the English Premier League team of the year.
Roger Milla – Cameroon
He is argued by many as the greatest African footballer of all time. However, that’s a subject for another day. But, he certainly deserves to be on the list. He became the oldest player at 42-years-old to play in the World Cup and in his prime, he was able to net over 430 professional career goals. He played for various clubs in his home country and France. Roger won two African Player of the Year awards, two AFCON titles for his country, and made it into the World Cup all-star tea in 1990.
Special mention goes to; Jay-Jay Okocha, Yaya Toure, Nwankwo Kanu, and Essam El-Hadary who also had successful careers and pass among the top African footballers of all time.
SOURCE: The East African contributed to this article | PHOTO: FIFA