Top Greatest African Soccer Players: A Look into their Careers

Posted on by SoccerPunter

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will go down in history as Messi’s tournament, and rightfully so. But it was also Africa’s, with the continent’s first-ever team to reach the semifinals against France, before ultimately losing their way and falling 2-0 in a game where the outcome did not necessarily reflect the balance of play. 

Against the odds, Morocco captured the imagination of football fans everywhere by beating established powerhouses in Portugal and Spain. Yet most football fans will tell you that this was a long time coming. Africa has churned out quality players in what seems like a consistent production line, one after the other lighting up the biggest leagues. 

Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) 

Morocco’s was a true Cinderella story of the sport. Before the tournament, sports betting companies were offering customers odds of around 200/1. Translation = no one expected the North African country to do much at the tournament. 

Yet throughout the continent, from bets in Kenya with the help of to South Africa to Morocco itself, people put their money down both in the hope of winnings and with the genuine belief it could finally be Africa’s turn. Their heart, variety of play, and combative play sprinkled with creative genius cemented the country’s place among the world’s best. 

The team got as far as they did because they did it together, but they still needed the brilliance of individual players like Hakim Ziyech and Achraf Hakimi, two of the best African players around. 

Hakim Ziyech, their creative number 7. In some games, he’s barely even there. And then he’s there and all bets are off. His game is all about options; a deft touch, a pass infused with creativity, or a goal from nothing marking his style. His 2019 Champions League run with Ajax is legendary, resulting in a big-money move to Chelsea. 

Achraf Hakimi is perhaps even better. Many experts of the game consider him to be the best right back in the world, with his pace being absolutely frightening. When he was 21, he set a Bundesliga record by hitting a top speed of 22.49 mph. He’s also technically sound and almost always makes the right decision. At just 24, he’s played for giants Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Dortmund, and PSG. 

Mo Salah (Egypt) 

There was one talented individual who probably didn’t have the best World Cup experience. This was because the former PFA Players’ Player of the Year was sitting at home, watching it on television. His talent, however, should really have been on display at the top stage. 

He started his career in a bit of a stop-start fashion, with Chelsea doing what they do best: sending talented players out on loan. But once he got his chance with Liverpool, Salah showed the London club exactly what they were missing. You would bet your house on Salah grabbing the winning goal in a big game. 

His trophy cabinet speaks for itself: Premier League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, Champions League, Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Community Shield, BBC African Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year (x2), FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot, the list goes on. 

Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)

The current president of the Cameroonian Football Federation was once one of the best. He holds the record for the most African Player of the Year gongs, winning the prestigious prize four times (2003, 2004, 2005, 2010). 

His talent was obvious to see from an early age, prompting Real Madrid to pry him away from Kadji Sports Academy at just 16. His career in the Spanish capital never quite got off the ground, his options limited in a star-studded club. But his form in Mallorca showed just why Los Blancos invested in him in the first place. 

It was in Barcelona where he really established himself. He scored 130 goals spread over five seasons and won La Liga three times. He also scored in the 2006 Champions League final, with the club starting their impressive tiki-taka run with Messi at the helm. He won the Champions League once more with Inter Milan, the first player to notch continental trebles two years in a row. 

George Weah (Liberia) 

We’re betting you’ve heard of this AC Milan legend. We’ve saved the best for last: George Weah. He’s the only African player to ever win the Ballon d’Or, edging legends like Klinsmann, Litmanen, Del Piero, and Paolo Maldini. 

He isn’t just one of the best players Africa has produced, he’s just a bona fide legend. He was the complete package on the pitch, both being able to score and create. He had the speed of a tricky winger, but the power of the strongest pitbull midfielder. At his best, he was just unstoppable. Just watch this goal he scored at the Parc Des Princes. 

And with that, our list of top African players, with a slight recency bias towards the Moroccan heroes of the 2022 World Cup. Go, get on YouTube. Once you get started with Weah highlights, you’ll lose track of time.

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