The Best African Football Players Of The Last Century

Published on: 06 June 2023

Africa has given and continues to provide the football world with some of the best players ever to play the game. And there are many candidates from the last century to make a list of the best of them. But, while there have been some great players, some others stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto'o, the president of the Cameroonian Football Federation, is a striker who played and starred for prestigious clubs such as Barcelona and Inter Milan, scoring plenty of goals and winning tons of silverware. The three-time Champions League winner was also named African Player of the Year on four occasions, and when he played, the team he was playing for generally won, which was reflected by those taking part in football betting online at the time.

Didier Drogba

For some, it’s a toss-up between Eto’o and Didier Drogba in terms of who is the best African player of all time, and the latter more than holds his own in any conversation. While Drogba impressed elsewhere, it’s his first stint at Chelsea he’s recognised for, and up until recently, he was the top-scoring African the English top flight has seen. Drogba also led his nation, the Ivory Coast, to the World Cup finals in 2006.

Michael Essien

Like Drogba, Michael Essien came to the fore elsewhere and then took his game to another level during the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea. Essien offered the perfect balance in midfield alongside the more attack-minded Frank Lampard and helped the club secure nine titles. Essien combined excellent physical attributes with technical ability, something rarely seen from more defensive midfielders of that era.

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah has an advantage over the likes of Eto’o, Drogba and Essien because, unlike them, he’s already considered one of the best African players of all time, and he’s still playing. So, after firmly establishing himself during his time at Liverpool under manager Jurgen Klopp, where he’s helped the club to Premier League and Champions League success, he’s also scored the most goals from an African player in England’s top division, overtaking Drogba. And he could still add to all that and his reputation.

Yaya Toure

The final player to make this list of the best African football players of the last century is Yaya Toure, who ironically left Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and became one of the best midfielders on the planet at Manchester City. While at City, Toure won plenty of silverware, and he also managed to help lead the Ivory Coast to AFCON success in 2015. Toure’s time at City and in the Premier League ended when Guardiola arrived at the club, but he remains a legend.

Mo Salah still has plenty of time to eclipse every African player ever to play the game, and there are plenty of others coming through who could go on to do the same. But the likes of Eto’o, Drogba and Essien will always be held in great esteem as African players who did it on the world stage, in the best leagues and competitions, winning silverware in the process.

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