The best African footballers in history

The best African footballers in history
Let's talk about the greatest football players Africa has produced in history. PHOTO: Colgadosporelfutbol

Última actualización 22 abril, 2024 por Alberto Llopis

Who are the best african footballers in history? Africa, along with Oceania, is the only continent yet to boast a World Cup semifinalist. Despite the growing prominence of its football and the increasing number of schools and improved training at all levels, especially tactically, it hasn’t yet overcome the barrier of competing for a World Cup title. Nonetheless, it has produced some truly outstanding footballers. In the last 20 years, Africa has been able to showcase an endless pool of talents.

The best african footballers in history

George Weah: According to Colgados, the best African player in history. For two main reasons: he’s the only one to have won a Ballon d’Or (1995), and his power, technique, and finishing were truly remarkable. With his long strides, his class brought joy to AC Milan and PSG, clubs with which he won their respective league titles. Only the fact of playing for a lesser-known national team like Liberia prevented him from being recognized as one of the greatest. He possessed all the qualities. His son Timothy is a professional footballer.

Didier Drogba: Alongside Samuel Eto’o, he arguably deserves a spot on such a distinguished podium. Drogba took Olympique de Marseille and, even more so, Chelsea to great heights. He single-handedly secured Chelsea’s only Champions League title with a remarkable performance. Drogba was power, sheer power, but also finesse, goals, and a lot of class.

Samuel Eto’o: Perhaps the African player with the most impressive international track record. He has won almost everything and has played for the likes of Barcelona, Madrid, and Inter. His extensive experience speaks volumes for a player of tremendous speed and scoring ability.

Roger Milla: A typical case where the character surpasses the person. Roger Milla was talent and brilliance, combined with spectacular physical ability. But undoubtedly, his greatest contribution was his charisma. He was the first great African player in history, the man who put Cameroon on the map with his goals, some of them wonderful, others unforgettable, much like his dance every time he celebrated a goal.

Mohamed Salah: The Egyptian rightfully earns his place on this list. Mo Salah is one of the most talented footballers in the history of the African continent. Salah has already made history in international football with Liverpool. But as he continues to play, he still has the potential to achieve even greater things. He came close to being the second Ballon d’Or winner in history. 

The best african footballers
Salah among the best footballers Africa has produced. PHOTO:

Bruce Grobelaar: White and South African. And to add more, a goalkeeper. Bruce Grobelaar was extravagant in every way. He made glaring mistakes that he would combine with impossible saves. Despite his great reflexes, history says he spent 14 years guarding Liverpool’s goal and won 6 League titles, the last ones won at Anfield. He ended up becoming a legend. Among other things, because he was special, and his extravagance made him one of the most charismatic players of the 1980s.

Yaya Touré: Michael Essien and other defensive midfielders with a great stride, long-range efforts, and enormous defensive capacity could also be on the list. Yes, but Touré had all that, plus an attacking prowess that earned him a respectable number of goals per season. That’s his greatness, coupled with tremendous quality that made him a set-piece specialist.

Abédi Pelé: A key figure in Olympique’s triumph in the early ’90s, this Ghanaian won three African Ballon d’Or awards, indicating that we’re talking about a giant. A player with tremendous power and an ease for finding the net. One of the greats. His 2 sons are footballers, forming a lineage of football professionals.

Mahmoud El-Khatib: Egypt has always been a team that has bet on touch and talent. And this man had all this and much more. Above all, goals. He was the only one to win a Golden Boot for Africa, at his beloved Al-Ahly, where he played for 16 years and won everything possible. His only goal was to score; it was in his blood. He only saw two yellow cards in over 16 years of his career.

Nwankwo Kanu: A powerful forward whose heart problems prevented him from being one of the greatest footballers in history. The Nigerian had practically everything a player needs. Strength, class, and goals. He was the perfect mix on the field. He was part of that invincible Arsenal squad.

Thomas N´Kono: He was the first great representative of a school of goalkeepers who shared qualities. Agile, skillful, very fast, and with long trousers. He was a symbol of Espanyol, but also of African goalkeepers. Therefore, he deserves to be included in this list.

*Players born in Africa who played for other national teams or players born in Europe who played for African teams are not included.

Other notable players: Rabeh Madjer (Algeria), Kalusha Bwalya (Zambia), Michael Essien (Ghana), Frederick Kanouté (Mali), Seydou Keita (Mali), Amunike (Nigeria), Okocha (Nigeria)…

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