The black continent called Africa has always been a source of creativity, talent and competitiveness when it comes to the most popular sport in the world. The continent has been able to produce legendary football players who have shined at the most famous stadiums in the world.
Here are names of Africans that would forever be remembered in the history of football in the world.
Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)
Samuel Eto’o remains on top of Africa’s best players list, who had a great, glorious career winning very prestigious football titles. With FC Barcelona, he was able to win three times in the Spanish league. He also won the European league of champions with the same Catalan team. Besides, Eto’o was twice the African Cup champion with his national team, Cameroon, in 2000 and 2002. In 2010, he was able to add another UEFA Champions League title, but this time with the legendary Inter Milan. Samuel got four African Golden Balls, and was also named the Best Number 9 Player of all time at FC Barcelona.
George Weah (Liberia)
Regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time and one of the best forwards of his generation, Georges Weah is one of the most successful African players in the history of the game. He was selected by the African Football Confederation as Africa’s best footballer in 1989, 1994, and 1995. The Liberian player was at the top of his glory in 1995 when he was awarded the title of FIFA Golden Ball, a distinction he is the only African to hold until now.
He was the champion of France with Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in 1994, and best scorer of the UEFA Champions League with the same club in 1995. However, it was at AC Milan, in the Italian Serie A, that he really shone. In Italy, Weah won two Serie A titles: 1995-96 and 1998-99
Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)
Didier Drogba is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the legendary African players, and the footballer most adored by the Ivorians. After beaming in the French Championship, he joined the English Club of Chelsea in 2004 under the leadership of Portuguese coach, José Mourinho. He is the all-time top scorer and former captain of his national team, Ivory Coast. Drogba was more successful in Europe than with his national team, mainly at Chelsea Club, where he scored more goals than any other foreign player. He got the African Golden Ball twice in 2006 and 2009. With Chelsea, Drogba won four premier league titles, three football league cups, in addition to the prestigious UEFA Champions League in 2012. He was elected by the fans as the Best Player in the History of Chelsea in 2015.
Roger Milla (Cameroon)
With two CANs on his record, Roger Milla is another legendary player from Africa. The Cameroonian footballer had impressed football fans in the biggest African stadiums before flying to Europe, where he experienced an equally great career. Elected twice as the Best in Africa, Roger Milla lifted his country to the quarterfinals at the 1990 World Cup in Italy.
Roger is still remembered for his magical goal celebrations by running to the corner flag and performing his famous dance. He was named one of the greatest living football players in 2004 by Brazilian football player, Pelé. In 2007, the Cameroonian player was chosen by the CAF as the Best African Player of the previous 50 years.
Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast)
Yaya Touré remains the only African footballer to have won the title of the Best African Player four times in Africa. Winner of the Champions League with FC Barcelona in 2009, and the Spanish league in 2009 and 2010, he joined the English Championship to play for Manchester City for which he was three times Premier League Champion in 2012, 2014, and 2015. Touré realised the dream of all Ivorians by winning the African Cup of Nations with the Elephants of Ivory Coast in 2015
Abedi Pele (Ghana)
Africa will always remember the Ghanaian legend, Abedi Pelé, who is regarded as one of the greatest African footballers of all time. For some, he is the “Pele” of Africa thanks to his exploits on the football field. With the Black Stars of Ghana, he was the champion of the 1982 edition of the CAN before winning 11 years later, in 1993, the UEFA Champions League while playing for the Olympique De Marseille. Abedi Pele was chosen by the CAF Football Confederation as the Best African Player three times in 1991, 1992 and 1993. He was also named the African Player of The Year by BBC in 1992.
Salif Kéita (Mali)
The Malian footballer, Salif Kéita, was the first African player to win the African Golden Ball, a prize awarded since 1970. Three-time winner of the Mali National Cup with Real de Bamako, he joined the French Championship in 1968, evolving under the colors of Saint-Etienne. He was three-time champion of France with the Stephanois before moving to Portugal, where he became champion also with Sporting CP. At the individual level, Salif Kéita got the European Silver Shoe in 1972 and was awarded the title of the Best African Player in the same year.
Zinedine Zidane: A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year
One of soccer’s all-time greats, Zinedine Zidane led France to victory at the 1998 World Cup, but was thrown out of the ’06 Cup final for striking an opponent.
Who Is Zinedine Zidane?
Zinedine Zidane was born on June 23, 1972, in Marseille, France. A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Zidane led France to victory in the 1998 World Cup and starred for clubs in France, Italy and Spain. His career ended in shocking fashion when he was expelled from the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting an opponent, though he remains regarded as one of the sport’s all-time greats. Zidane went on to a highly successful stint as manager of Real Madrid from 2016 to ’18, winning three consecutive Champions League titles.
Zinedine Yazid Zidane was born on June 23, 1972, in Marseille, France. The son of Algerian immigrants, Zidane learned to play soccer in the streets of La Castellane, a rough section of Marseille. After starring for local youth clubs, 14-year-old Zidane was discovered at a French Football Federation training camp by AS Cannes recruiter Jean Varraud, and spent the next three years honing his skills in Cannes’ youth division.
Zidane made his first professional appearance for Cannes at 17, scoring a goal in his debut. He transferred to Bordeaux in 1992, and in ensuing years the attacking midfielder earned renown for his sterling all-around play. Prone to the occasional flash of temper, Zidane otherwise was the embodiment of control with the ball at his feet, seemingly knowing when to maneuver through the defense, find a teammate with a pinpoint pass or rocket a shot at the goal.
Zidane transferred to Juventus F.C. in Italy’s prestigious Series A League in 1996. The move brought a marked increase in visibility and expectations, but Zidane proved he was up to the challenge by steering Juventus to an Italian Super Cup, a UEFA Super Cup, an Intercontinental Cup and a pair of Series A titles over the next two seasons.
At his peak when France hosted the 1998 World Cup, Zidane spearheaded Les Bleus’ march through the tournament with his crisp passing and dribbling, and then scored twice as France shut down Brazil in the final, 3-0, to become a national hero. Two years later, Zidane again was the linchpin of the French team’s run to international glory, which culminated with a 2-1 win over Italy for the European Championship.
In 2001, Zidane signed with Spanish club Real Madrid for a world-record transfer fee of more than $66 million. The investment paid immediate dividends, as the French import helped Real Madrid win the coveted UEFA Champions League title in his first year and La Liga the following season.
Zidane had indicated he would retire after the 2006 World Cup in Germany, and it appeared his career was heading for a storybook finish when France advanced to the final against Italy. Instead, it ended in shocking fashion when, enraged by opponent Marco Materazzi’s comments to him in extra time, he slammed his head into the Italian player’s chest. Zidane was thrown out of the game, and France subsequently lost on penalty kicks.
Real Madrid Front Office and Manager
Zidane joined Real Madrid’s front office as an adviser and was named the club’s sporting director in 2011. The following year, it was announced the French soccer legend would begin coaching at Real Madrid’s youth academy, and in 2014 he was named coach of the club’s B team.
In January 2016, Zidane took over as manager of Real Madrid’s first team. While some doubted how he would fare in front of a demanding owner and fan base, the icon soon silenced the critics with his overwhelming success, becoming the first manager to win two and then three consecutive Champions League titles. He also led Real Madrid to two UEFA Super Cups, two FIFA World Club Cups, one Spanish title and one Spanish Super Cup, before announcing he was stepping down from the post in May 2018.
In 2004, Zidane was named best European soccer player of the past 50 years by the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll and was included in the FIFA 100, Pelé’s list of the 125 greatest living players. He remains one of a handful of greats to win the FIFA World Player of the Year/Ballon d’Or award three times.
Appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador in March 2001, Zidane annually captains a team of soccer stars against a side led by fellow retired idol and U.N. Ambassador Ronaldo in a match for charity. In 2010, he also served as a high-profile ambassador of Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
David Beckham: The talented goal scorer
The great David Beckham has played for Manchester United, England, Real Madrid and the L.A. Galaxy. He is married to Victoria Beckham, also known as Posh from the Spice Girls.
Who Is David Beckham?
Soccer star David Beckham was born on May 2, 1975, in London, England. A phenom almost from the moment he could first kick a soccer ball, Beckham began playing for Manchester United, England’s legendary soccer team, at age 18, and was a starter by age 20. In 2007, he signed a five-year, $250 million contract with the L.A. Galaxy. In May 2013, he announced plans to retire.
Wife and Family
Beckham has been married to Victoria Adams (of Spice Girls fame) since 1999. The couple has four children: three sons (Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz) and one daughter (Harper).
World-Wide Star for Manchester United
Beckham wasted little time in making a splash on the English soccer landscape. The talented goal scorer was named the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year in 1997. A year later, he was one of the leading faces of England’s World Cup team.
Marriage to Victoria Beckham
His bravado and good looks offered up plenty of off-field potential, too. In 1998, Beckham, who’d already signed a deal with Adidas, netted $13 million in endorsement deals. The Beckham brand only enhanced in value when he met Victoria Adams, also known as “Posh Spice” of the Spice Girls, in 1997. The two quickly fell in love, and on March 4, 1999, they had their first child, a son they named Brooklyn Joseph. Two months later, Beckham and Victoria tied the knot at a lavish $800,000 wedding at a castle outside of Dublin, Ireland.
On the field, Beckham didn’t miss a beat. In 1999 he led Manchester United to the Premier League title, the FA Cup championship, and the Champions League title. Thanks to a last-minute free kick against Greece in 2001, England qualified for the 2002 World Cup. That same year, Beckham signed a three-year $22 million contract to remain with Manchester United.
But Beckham’s time with United proved to be shorter than anyone thought. In 2003 he was acquired by Real Madrid in a stunner of a deal that brought to light Beckham’s growing rift with Manchester’s manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
Spanish soccer fans were thrilled to have their archrival join their team. Americans, meanwhile, were just getting to know him with the release of the movie, Bend It Like Beckham (2002), a delightful movie that tells the story of a young girl who bucks her family’s traditional ways, and falls in love with English soccer.
Moving to the L.A. Galaxy
America’s fascination with Beckham and his decade of dominance culminated in 2007, when the soccer great moved across the Atlantic to sign a reported five-year, $250 million deal with the L.A. Galaxy. The relocation was as much about giving Victoria Beckham’s career a boost (she helped drive the decision to move to the States) as it was to give America’s Major League Soccer a shot in the arm. Within 48 hours of the signing, the Galaxy sold more than 5,000 season tickets.
Beckham’s career since moving to the United States, however, has been a rocky one. He’s been beset by injuries, spraining a knee ligament his first season in L.A., and later missed out on a chance to play in the 2010 World Cup because of an Achilles tendon injury.
In July 2011, he and wife Victoria Beckham, who already had three boys together (Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz), welcomed a daughter, Harper Seven, into their family.
In 2012 Beckham furthered his success by venturing into a new commercial endeavor, starting an underwear line for the company H&M. As part of Beckham’s marketing campaign with H&M, six 10-foot statues of the soccer star in his underwear were installed in New York City; others were installed in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On May 16, 2013 — just days after winning a title with French club Paris Saint-Germain — the 38-year-old Beckham announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2013 season, ending his 21-year soccer career.
“I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done today without my family. I’m grateful for my parents’ sacrifice, which made me realize my dreams,” Beckham said in a statement. “I owe everything to Victoria and the kids, who have given me the inspiration and support to play at the highest level for such a long period… If you had told me as a young boy I would have played for and won trophies with my boyhood club Manchester United, proudly captained and played for my country over 100 times and lined up for some of the biggest clubs in the world, I would have told you it was a fantasy. I’m fortunate to have realized those dreams.”
By 2013, Beckham had become credited as England’s wealthiest sportsman, reportedly earning more than $46 million annually. The following year Beckham announced plans — along with fellow investors — to expand the Major League Soccer franchise with a new team in Miami.
Beckham has been involved in numerous charity work over the years, most notably serving as a UNICEF UK ambassador in the arena of children and sports development.
Born on May 2, 1975, in Leytonstone, London, England, to parents Ted Beckham, an appliance repairman, and his wife Sandra, a hair stylist, David Beckham was the family’s only son. A middle child between two sisters, Beckham grew up with parents and siblings who were committed fans of Manchester United, England’s legendary soccer franchise.
At an early age, Beckham showed his own promise as a footballer, winning the coveted Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools National Skills competition at 11 years old. His talent soon caught the notice of Manchester United team officials, who asked him to try out for the club’s youth league. By the age of 16, Beckham had left home and was playing for United’s training division. Two years later he made the club, and by 1995, he was a full-time starter.
Best African players from Nigeria
Nigeria with the population of over 186 million is a country with a variety of sporting interests, but a widely celebrated one is football.
Since 1949 when a select group of Nigerian footballers were recruited to form the ‘UK Tourists’, a touring team that represented Nigeria in Europe, it’s been producing some of the finest football players out of Africa. In 1953, Titus Okere joined Swindon Town FC as the first Nigerian footballer to play for an international team and, ever since, many other talented football players have emerged from the country. Here is a list of some of the best football players from Nigeria.
Sunday Oliseh is a former Nigerian football manager and football player who, during his active years, played as a defensive midfielder. Born on September 14, 1974, his football career spanned from 1989–2006 when he retired aged 32. During his professional career, he played for the teams Julius Berger, RFC Liège, Reggiana, Ajax, Juventus, and Genk among others, and the Nigerian national squad from 1993–2002. As a club manager, he managed Eupen, Verviétois, Nigeria, and currently Fortuna Sittard.
At the age of 19, his exceptional skills earned him a €1.5 million (US$1.8 million) move to Köln from Reggiana and at 22 Ajax purchased him for €2.3 million (US$2.7 million). Oliseh played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup of 1994 and 1998, played 54 international matches and scored two goals for Nigeria. However, he is most fondly remembered for scoring the winning goal in a group stage match against Spain in the 1998 World Cup. Oliseh has an estimated net worth of €3.4 million (US$4 million).
Popularly known as ‘Jay-Jay’, Augustine Azuka Okocha was born on August 14, 1973. He played as an attacking midfielder during his career from 1990–2008 and was known for his technique, confidence and dribbling skills, especially his use of feints.
During his career, he played for Borussia Neunkirchen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahçe, Paris Saint-Germain, Bolton Wanderers, Qatar SC, and Hull City. For Nigeria, he played 75 international games and scored 14 goals from 1993–2006. Since retiring in 2008, he’s now a business mogul, owning several companies in his native country, and is estimated to be worth around €127 million (US$150 million).
Stephen Keshi was a former Nigerian player and manager born on January 23, 1962. Sadly, after suffering a heart attack in his home, he died en route to the hospital on June 7, 2016. During his tenure as a defender, he played 64 international games and scored nine goals for Nigeria. He captained the national team to victory in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, and from 2011 coached the team to victory again in 2013, thus becoming one of only two people to win the tournament as both a player and a coach.
His football career spanned from 1979 to 1998, during which he played for five countries, including Belgium, where he won the Belgian Juliper League with R.S.C. Anderlecht in 1991. He was honoured by Google on January 23, 2018, when the search engine changed its logo in Nigeria to an illustration of him on what would have been his 56th birthday.
Born on August 1, 1976, Nwankwo was a forward player who captained the Nigerian national team for 17 years, from 1994–2010. During his career from 1992–2012, he played for Iwuanyanwu Nationale, Ajax, Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, and Portsmouth.
In a career spanning two decades, Nwankwo remains one of Africa’s most successful footballers winning over 20 accolades (individual, country and club) including winning the Olympic gold medal in 1996 with Nigeria, and made the third most substitute appearances in the UK’s Premier League history, appearing from the bench 118 times. As a member of his national team, he made 87 international appearances, scoring 12 goals.
In 1999, the Independent reported that Kanu was bought for £4.5 million (US$5.15 million) by Arsenal. Apart from his football career, Nwankwo is an entrepreneur with several investments in real estate, hospitality, oil and gas, and is said to be worth over US$104 million.
Born on March 26, 1974, Taribo West is a former defence player famously known for his unique and colourful hairstyles. He started his professional career playing for Obanta United in 1989, and after a successful trial in 1993 he joined Auxerre and helped them reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, until 1997 when he moved to join Internazionale for around £2 million (US$2.7 million).
West had an unstable career with some controversy that saw him move to various teams in a short period of time. Between 1994–2005, he played 42 international games with no goals for Nigeria. He finally retired in 2008 and is now a Christian pastor at the church he founded, Shelter in The Storm Miracle Ministries of All Nations.
John Obi Mikel
Also known as Mikel Obi by fans, Mikel is a midfield footballer who plays for Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League and the Nigeria national team. He was born on April 22, 1987, and started his career in 2002 at the age of 15. He started off playing for Plateau United, a Nigerian football club, then went on to play at Lyn and Chelsea, before heading to his current team in China.
In 2005, Mikel played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships held in the Netherlands, and won the Silver Ball after being voted the tournament’s second-best player. By the time he turned 18, he was embroiled in one of the craziest tug-of-wars between Manchester United and Chelsea, including allegations of kidnapping, and was subsequently bought by Chelsea who paid off Manchester United for £12 million (US$16.2 million) in order to seal the transfer deal. He is estimated to have a net worth of US$50 million.
Victor Moses is a professional wing-back footballer who plays for Chelsea and the Nigeria national team. Born December 12, 1990, he began his career at Crystal Palace, before making his Premier League debut at Wigan Athletic in 2010. By the summer of 2012, he was signed to Chelsea making 84 appearances and scoring seven goals. From 2013–2016, he was on loan to Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United consecutively. Moses represented England youth teams at Under-16, Under-17, Under-19 and Under-21 levels, but has since opted to play for Nigeria where he’s made 29 international appearances and scored 11 goals. He has an estimated net worth of US$23 million.
Termed as the breakout Nigerian star of 2017, Onyekuru is a 20-year-old forward who plays for the Nigerian national team, as well as Anderlecht where he is on loan from Premier League club Everton. His career started in 2010 at the Aspire Academy in Qatar, where he graduated in 2015 before being signed up by their partner club, Eupen, from 2015–2017, and now Everton who he joined for £7 million (US$9.5 million) in June 2017.
Born on December 16, 1996, Wilfred Ndidi plays as a midfielder for Leicester City and the Nigeria national team. Only 21 years old, Ndidi began his career on January 31, 2015, after signing to Genk which lasted till 2017. Currently he plays for Leicester City after a £17 million transfer deal from Genk. In 2013 he joined the Nigerian U-20 team, and in 2015 got called up for the senior team, making his debut in the friendly game against D.R. Congo, and playing again a few days later against Cameroon, replacing John Obi Mikel.
Born on March 21, 1989, Anthony is a forward who plays for Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Israeli Premier League. His youth career began in 2006 at the Vejle Football Academy. Then in 2010, his senior career commenced at Universitatea Cluj who gave him on loan to Romanian club Arieșul Turda where he played eight games and scored five goals. He went on to play for Petrolul Ploiești before returning to Universitea Cluj, and then moved on to Hapoel Ra’anana until 2015 when he switched to his current team. So far he has scored 14 goals in 32 league appearances earning him the honour of best player in Israel. He made his debut for the Nigeria national football team against Algeria in a 1–1 draw on November 10, 2017.
Born on May 23, 1988, Angelo Ogbonna is a centre back Italian footballer who plays for West Ham United and the Italian national team. In 2002 he signed to Torino where he was later on loan to Crotone in Serie C1. He left the club in 2013 to join Juventus, where he won the Scudetto in 2013–2014 and 2014–2015, as well as the 2013 Supercoppa Italiana and the 2014–2015 Coppa Italia. Although born to Nigerian parents who emigrated to Italy in 1983, he plays for the Italian national team where he made his debut with the Italian Under-21 team in a friendly game against Russia. He is currently signed to West Ham United on a four-year €11 million (US$13 million) contract.
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