african soccer players

Top 10 African Soccer Players of All Time

Who are the best African soccer stars of all time?

by Malik Waleed

The best African soccer players – let’s talk about them!

No wonder Europe has always been the home for almost every soccer star, but do you know some iconic stars who ruled the soccer world was actually from Africa?  

Over the years, Africa has produced some of the most legendary soccer players with impressive records for both club and country. 

As we all know, the game is an overwhelming moment of beauty; in Africa, soccer is part of life. This love for the sport produced some iconic stars who will be remembered in the game’s history.

We at the dope lists have handpicked the 10 best African soccer players among the many greats based on their international and club honors. 

These players made it to the top with minimum resources and facilities representing different African soccer teams.

Roger Milla (Cameroon)

Milla was one of Cameroon’s most talented and decorated strikers. The Cameroonian made his debut in 1973 and netted 43 times for his country. World Cup is where the genius of this player was admired. 

His 4 glorious goals in the 1990 World Cup helped Cameroon become the first African country to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup.

Mila’s career almost touched four decades. He scored goals at an age when most players retire. His goal against Russia in the 1994 World Cup made him the oldest scorer in World Cup history, scoring at the age of 42.

Pele named him in the FIFA 100 “greatest living Footballers” in 2004. Milla was also named the best African player of the last 50 years by the CAF (Confederation of African Football).

Mila’s club career was also phenomenal, playing for French clubs like Bastia, Valencieness, Monaco, Saint-Etienne, and Montpellier.

Abedi Pele (Ghana) 

Abedi Ayew, professionally known as Abedi Pele, is regarded as one of the best African soccer players of all time. In his early career, Abedi was compared to the Brazilian legend Pele and thus was given the nickname “Pele” due to his resembling abilities. 

During his international career, Abedi netted 33 times in 73 games as an attacking midfielder. Abedi played for different European clubs but found fame in France playing for the French club Marseille.

He spent 3 legendary years at Marseille, where he was a key team player in the early 90s when they won the league title for 3 consecutive years.

Abedi won the Champions League with Marseille in 1993, becoming the man of the match. The Ghanaian also won the African player of the year award 3 times. Although he was a living legend of his era but never got the chance to play at the World Cup. Despite that he remains one of the most respected African soccer players ever.

Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria) 

Nwankwo Kanu was one of the deadliest strikers the game has ever seen. And one of the best African soccer players. He caught the eyes of the Dutch club Ajax during his sublime performance in the under-17- World Cup, which they won back in 1993.

The Nigerian made his international debut in 1994 and played in 3 World Cups. He won 86 caps and scored 13 goals for the National team.

During his time at Ajax, he scored 25 goals in 54 appearances for Ajax. Kanu was also a crucial team member when Ajax won the Champions League in 1995, where he came as a sub.

In 1999 he left Ajax and joined the Italian giant Inter Milan for a transfer fee worth $4.7 million. After playing just 12 league games for Inter, Kanu left the club and joined Arsenal for $4.15 million. 

It took no time for Kanu to prove himself, and he soon became a sensation in Premier League. He netted 44 times for the gunners in 197 appearances. Kanu won some significant trophies like the Champions League, FA Cup, and Premier League.

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Riyad Mahrez is a French-born winger; however, he represents the Algerian side internationally. Mahrez is a magical winger with the technical ability to beat defenders one-on-one and a mighty left foot. He began his career playing for a French club as a youth player. 

In 2014 Mahrez was signed by the English side Leicester City and later proved to be a terrific winger for the Foxes. The Algerian helped Leicester win their unprecedented Premier League trophy in the 2015-16 season. 

The same year he won the Algerian Footballer of the Year award. Mahrez then joined Manchester City in 2018 and continued his legacy. He has scored on several big occasions for them and lit the Etihad Stadium repeatedly. 

In his debut season with City, he won the Premier League, FA Cup, and EFL CUP. He won the African Footballer of the year award in 2016 and was also part of the Algerian side that reached the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.

Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

Yaya Toure, the midfield machine, power, pace, accuracy, technique, he had it all. The box-to-box midfielder enjoyed a storied career in Spain and England.

Toure arrived in the Catalan capital Barcelona in 2007. He was a crucial player in Barca’s success during their extraordinary year in 2009, winning 6 trophies in a calendar year. 

In 2010 Toure was signed by Manchester City for €25 million. His strength and abilities soon made him one of the most loved players among Etihad fans. He helped Manchester City lift their first league trophy after 44 years.

He spent 8 seasons at Manchester City, scoring 81 goals in 292 appearances. Toure was among the best African soccer players, winning the African footballer of the year award 4 times.  

Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast)

Didier Drogba, the man who help Chelsea become the most dominant force in Europe. The Ivorian striker tasted success at both club and country levels.

Chelsea signed Drogba in July 2004 for €24 million. Since that day, his goals have kept coming. He guided Chelsea to lift their first league title in 50 years.

His winning penalty in Munich in 2012 helped Chelsea win their first Champions League. The gifted Ivorian striker won everything at Chelsea.

His honors at the club contain 4 Premier League titles and 4 FA Cups. He also won the Golden Boot twice during his 9 seasons at the club.

Drogba is the leading goal scorer of Ivory Coast, with 65 goals in 105 appearances. He won the African Player of the year award 2 times.

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

Eto’o was one of Africa’s all-time great footballers and the most fantastic striker of his era. He was widely praised for his goal-scoring abilities. At 16, Eto’o moved to the Spanish Capital to join Real Madrid in 1997.

He had an impressive loan spell at Mallorca, and thus Mallorca permanently signed him. He scored 70 goals for Mallorca, proving his quality. In 2004 he was signed by Barcelona, which was the beginning of his rise to glory.

Playing in attack alongside Ronaldinho, he won 3 La Liga titles and scored 130 goals in 5 seasons. Eto’o was a big game player scoring in 2 Champions League finals.

Eto’o won 3 Champions League and 3 La Liga titles. He was twice nominated in the FIFPRO World XI and was also declared 4 times African Player of the year.

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Rising from the poor village of Bambali to the peak of the Soccer World, Mane rose to glory with minimum resources. Mane started his career playing for the French club Metz when he was 19.

Later he joined the Austrian club RB Salzburg with whom he won the league. Mane then moved to England and signed for Southampton. He caught the eyes of Liverpool in 2016, and they signed him for €34 million.

Mane soon became a club hero for the reds. His records in Premier League seem unrealistic. In a span of six seasons with the reds, Mane won it all, including the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, and FA Cup.

He netted 120 times in 269 appearances. He is Senegal’s all-time top scorer and helped Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.

After so many achievements, it would be easy for a player like Mane to forget his roots, but instead, he seems very humble and down to earth. He has built schools and Hospitals in his home town Bambali. Mane is now one of the most loved African soccer players.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Mohamed Salah is one of the most prolific forwards the world has ever seen. He is widely famous for his smooth finishing abilities. Salah began his senior career playing for a local club AL Mokawloon. 

He then played for European clubs, including Chelsea, Roma, and Fiorentina, until finally, he joined Liverpool in 2017 for €36.9 million. In his debut season with the reds, he had a remarkable campaign achieving a record of 44 goals in all competitions.

The Egyptian continues to be a serial champion with Liverpool. Till now, Salah has won the Champions League, Premier League, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup with Liverpool. He has scored 160 goals in 263 appearances.

Salah has yet to win a major International trophy with Egypt. Salah has been named African Footballer of the Year twice. He is his country’s second all-time top scorer behind Hossam Hassan. And arguably one of the most talented African soccer players of all time.

George Weah (Liberia)

Who else to put on number one than George Weah? The first African player to win the Ballon d’Or, George Weah, is simply one of the greatest players Africa has ever produced. His technical abilities and exceptional dribbling skills gave Weah early success. 

Arsene Wenger, who coached Monaco at the time, brought Weah to Europe in 1988. After spending 4 years at Monaco, PSG signed him in 1992. His time at PSG was phenomenal winning Ligue 1 and becoming the top scorer in the Champions League in the 1994-95 season. 

In 1995 Weah moved to AC Milan and spent 4 successful seasons at the club, winning the Serie A title twice. It was the year Weah was awarded the most prestigious soccer award, the Ballon d’Or. 

Weah was thrice described as African player of the year, once European Footballer of the year, and was also named African Player of the Century in 1996. After retirement, Weah got involved in politics and is now the current president of Liberia.

These are some of the best African soccer players of all time. Do you agree with our list?

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