Football is largely dominated by European players or teams. But let us not overlook the continent of Africa‘s tremendous contribution. Africa has produced some legendary players in world football over the years, who have created magic for their respective clubs and countries. African football is rich in quality and depth.
Let’s have a look at the top ten finest African footballers of all time:
Essam El-Hadary: Egypt
The goalkeeper, also known as “The High Dam,” is one of Egypt’s most decorated players as well as one of the finest African footballers of all time. In 1996, he made his debut for the Pharaohs. With them, he has won four African Cup of Nations titles, three of which came in consecutive years (2006, 2008, and 2010).
He became the oldest player to play in a FIFA World Cup match at the age of 45. It took place at the 2018 edition in Russia, with Saudi Arabia as the opponent. With Al Ahly, he won the Egyptian league eight times. With Al-Merreikh, he also won the Sudanese league title.
Abedi Ayew ‘Pele’: Ghana
Abedi Ayew was used as an attacking midfielder. In 1982, he led the Black Stars to the AFCON victory. He was also named the Player of the Tournament a decade later. Unfortunately, Ghana was defeated by Ivory Coast on penalties in the final. In 1991, 1992, and 1993, he led Marseille to three straight Ligue 1 titles (the last title scrapped due to a scandal).
In 1993, the midfielder helped them win the UEFA Champions League, defeating AC Milan. In that final, he was named Man of the Match. Three times, the Ghanaian has been named African Footballer of the Year.
Yaya Toure: Ivory Coast
Yaya Toure, often known as “The Tall Introvert,” has enjoyed success at both the international and club levels. At AFCON 2015, he led the Ivory Coast to victory. Toure has previously won league titles with FC Barcelona and Manchester City, among others. With the Spanish giants, he won the Champions League. He is without a doubt one of Africa’s best footballers of all time.
Four times, the midfielder was named African Footballer of the Year. Toure was noted for his strength, vision, and ability to score goals. He scored 20 league goals for Manchester City in the 2013-14 season, which is an astounding feat for a defensive midfielder.
Nwankwo Kanu: Nigeria
The Nigerian has competed in three World Cups for his country. Kanu has won an Olympic gold medal, but he was never able to win the African Cup of Nations. With Ajax, he won the Eredivisie three times and the Champions League once. The striker was also a member of Arsene Wenger’s ‘The Invincibles’ Arsenal team in 2003-04.
Despite all of his achievements, he was relegated from Portsmouth in the final stages of his career. He was also twice named African Footballer of the Year.
Roger Milla: Cameroon
The International Federation of Football History and Statistics named Cameroon international the second greatest African player in the last 100 years (IFFHS). He has made significant contributions to Cameroon’s history. In 1990, he assisted them in reaching the World Cup quarter-finals, making them the first African team to do so.
He scored against Russia at the age of 42, giving him the World Cup’s oldest striker. He was also twice named African Footballer of the Year. In addition, the striker helped Cameroon win two AFCON titles in 1984 and 1988.
Sadio Mane: Senegal
Few people can match Sadio Mane’s achievements in his career, especially coming from the distant community of Bambali. The winger rose to prominence at RB Salzburg while playing for FC Metz. Southampton spent £10 million for his services because of his performances. Jurgen Klopp signed him to Anfield in 2016, and the rest is history.
In 2019, he and the Merseyside club won the Champions League. He shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the following year. In addition, the Senegalese played a key role in ending Liverpool’s 30-year wait for a Premier League title. Mane was also a member of Senegal’s AFCON-winning team in 2022. As a result, he is one of Africa’s most decorated footballers of all time.
Mohamed Salah: Egypt
Mohamed Salah is widely regarded as one of the best Africans to have ever played the game. The winger has been continually showing himself since being booted out by Chelsea, with various loan transfers and eventually a permanent transfer to AS Roma. His move to Liverpool has been nothing short of a dream come true.
He has won the Premier League and the Champions League since his arrival. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, he won the Golden Boot twice, scoring 32 and 22 goals, respectively. In 2018, Salah was also named PFA Players’ Player of the Year.
Didier Drogba: Ivory Coast
Didier Drogba was a member of Chelsea’s illustrious golden generation, which also included Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Petr Cech. The 2012 Champions League final in Munich will live long in the memory of Chelsea fans. Drogba’s late header tied the game, and his decisive penalty earned them the Champions League for the first time against all odds.
With the London club, he also won four Premier League titles. In the 2006/07 and 2009/10 Premier League seasons, the striker scored the most goals. Even though he did not win any international titles with the Ivory Coast, he was twice named African Footballer of the Year. As a result, he is one of Africa’s most decorated footballers of all time.
Samuel Eto’o: Cameroon
The former Cameroonian international is well-known. Samuel Eto’o has won the African Footballer of the Year award four times, along with Yaya Toure. In the year 2000, he won an Olympic gold medal, three Champions League titles (two with Barcelona and one with Inter Milan), and appeared in two finals.
Eto’o has also won three league titles, one with Inter Milan and three with Barcelona. He was an important part of Barcelona’s treble-winning season in 2008-09. The striker is Cameroon’s and the AFCON’s all-time leading goalscorer. Eto’o’s speed and strength made him a dangerous striker.
George Weah: Liberia
There was no dispute about our No. 1 position. In 1995, George Weah became the first and only African player to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or. He was named European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year in the same year.
The Liberian won the FA Cup with Chelsea and Ligue 1 with PSG in addition to his two Serie A triumphs with AC Milan. He is a two-time African Footballer of the Year and was named the finest African footballer of the twentieth century by the IFFHS. Another feather in his crown is that he is currently the President of his country.