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Who is Africa’s best footballer?

April 19, 2009

Never has there been as much bounty in terms of African talent as there is now. 

Although the continent has long been a conveyor belt of talent, genuine world stars from the African continent have been few and far between.

Liberia’s George Weah was winner of the World Player of the Year and also won Europe’s Ballon d’Or, but it could be argued both awards came in a quiet year.

Mozambique-born Eusebio achieved his fame and repute in the colours of colonial Portugal and has never had his achievements genuinely accepted by African fans.

But over the last years, a sprinkling of world class stars have emerged, leaving the suggestion African football has never been a more exciting commodity than at present.

Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o and Emmanuel Adebayor have all won the African Footballer of the Year award in recent years while Michael Essien has been a consistent nominee.

All four find themselves at the pinnacle of the world game, playing for clubs who all this week won through to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, universally accepted as a club competition without peer.

That the African quartet are among the most influential in the competition is a source of great pride to the continent. But it has also launched a massive debate as to who is the finest African footballer of his day.

Eto’o has won three African Footballer of the Year titles; Drogba one but it should have been two had he not been deprived of the other by the egos of the game’s administrators. Adebayor was named the 2008 Footballer of the Year, perhaps a little generously.

Essien is a persistent top three finisher in the poll of the last five years, but by far the most consistent of the quartet.

Each candidate has merit. Eto’o has had a distinguished career for both club and country and played in one more World Cup than the other three. He also helped Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions to two successive African Nations Cup titles in 2000 ands 2002.

The way he has resurrected his career at Barcelona also attests to the feisty spirit which he brings to the game but it is his pace off the mark that is most breathtaking.

Ivory Coast captain Drogba has power and finishing acumen but did not distinguish himself with a sulky attitude earlier this season when Luiz Filipe Scolari was manager at Chelsea.

Essien is a machine, running and plundering like a warrior of old. He is the best Ghanaian footballer since Abedi Pele. Adebayor’s spindly frame suggests a gangly game but how well he has done since moving from the fringes of the first team at Monaco to Arsenal.

Goals in both legs against Villarreal in the Champions League quarter-final were proof of his elevation to the ranks of the world class. Plus he single handedly carries his tiny country Togo at international level.

The question now which one is the best African footballer? If a vote were to be taken today, who could claim the heritage of Eusebio and Weah?


Best footballer awards often go to strikers, that is how come Essien has never won any award yet. This is unfair, personally i think midfield players are the best! they do all the work and strikers just bang in the goals! C’est la vie!!! To me, Essien is the best African Footballer.

Posted by Tina | Report as abusive

Aboutrika, Mido, Zaki, and countless others from Africa’s top national team (Egypt) are as deserving of this award.

Posted by balyejusa | Report as abusive

As African as Eusebio is, he elected to represent Portuguese, hence European Football. so the talk of him as an African legend is very misguided. For, Desailly, Tigana, Zidane who all chose to represent France are of African decents but neither seems to warrant a mention

On the other hand, the question seems to limit the option perhaps disregarding people like Lucas Radebe, Belloumi, Rabah Madjer, Roger Milla.

Finally, my take on this whole issue is that we, Africans need to give ourselves greater credit for our work, despite the obvious need for progress. The African player of the year should be one that playing in an African league and champion league. As for all those African players overseas, they are to concerned with the best Overseas African players

Posted by Francis N | Report as abusive

eusebio is definatley the best


i need a manager pls

Posted by raphael larteh | Report as abusive

There is no one like m.essien this season to be the Afican best.

Posted by BISSIANO | Report as abusive

best african player ever is augustine okocha (nigeria), followed by anthony yeboah (ghana). everything else is nonsense, reuters doesn’t know anything about football.

Posted by duck_sick | Report as abusive

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