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Best African players of all time

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This is a list of the top 5 football players to come from the African continent, starting the one and only Roger Milla.

Roger Milla
We start the list with Roger Milla, the first real African football star. Milla helped Cameroon become the first African national team to reach the quarter-finals of a World Cup. He did so as a 38-year-old and he did so in style, celebrating each goal with a corner flag dance.

The breakthrough accomplishment happened during the 1990 World Cup, when Cameroon beat Colombia to reach the final eight. The center forward did his magic with two goals in extra time and then reaffirmed his legend status in the quarter-final against England. He entered the game in the second half with Cameroon trailing 1–0, drew a penalty and then set up Ekeke’s goal, giving Cameroon a 2–1 lead. England later scored two penalty kicks (one in regular time and the other in extra time) to eliminate their African adversary.

After seven years of dominating African football (scored 158 goals in 203 games), Roger Milla was brought to Europe by French side Valenciennes. Unfortunately, playing time didn’t come easy at the beginning. In three years with Valenciennes and Monaco, he scored only eight goals. Once Roger Milla adjusted to the new surrounding, he found his scoring ways of old. He spent nine more years in France playing for Bastia, Saint-Etienne and Montpellier before returning to his homeland.

He appeared during the 1994 World Cup as a 42-year-old. His goal against Russia made Milla the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history, a record he still holds to this day.

George Weah
The current president of Liberia was once one of the most feared strikers in all of Europe. Learn more about his unique career in this article.

Didier Drogba
The ultimate big-game player, Didier Drogba made a career out of making a difference when it mattered most. He began his career in France, playing for Le Mans, Guingamp and ultimately Marseille. Marseille is where he made a name for himself as one of the best young goalscorers in French football. Scoring 19 goals in the domestic league and 11 more in European competitions was enough to convince Roman Abramovich to break the bank and sign him for a then record fee.

In his debut season, he helped Chelsea win their first league title in 50 years. He immediately became beloved by teams and fans alike and was the first African player to score 100 Premier League goals. He is also the only player to score in four separate FA Cup finals. His label as a clutch player was highlighted during the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final, in which he scored an 88th-minute equalizer and then scored the winning spot kick in the penalty shootout against Bayern Munich.

As good as he is on the pitch, Drogba is even more renowned for his charity work. He is a Goodwill Ambassador who played a key role in bringing piece to his native country. He has helped Ivory Coast countless of times and has worked to raise disease awareness across Africa throughout his career. He currently plays for Phoenix Rising, a United Soccer League he partially owns.

Samuel Eto’o
Samuel Eto’o is the most decorated African footballer of all time, winning the African Player of the Year award a record four times (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010). He spent his best years at Barcelona and became a global icon with his efforts on and off the pitch, where he fought racism throughout his career.

Real Madrid was the team that saw something special in the Cameroonian, but failed to give him an opportunity, which is why Eto’o decided to leave the club and join Mallorca. There, he started making good on his promise, enough so that Barcelona came knocking on the door. He scored over 100 goals in five seasons in Catalonia and won two Champions League titles, scoring in both finals. Then, he joined Inter and won the continental treble for a second successive season, becoming the first player in history to achieve such a feat. His career journey has taken him to Russia, Turkey, Italy, England and now Qatar.


Yaya Toure
Finally, we have Yaya Toure, one of the rare tall, yet successful central midfielders.

It took a while for coaches to shape Yaya Toure into a football player, but once they did, he became a force to be reckoned with. The four-time African Player of the Year was part of the historic 2009 Barcelona side that won six trophies in a calendar year. In 2010, Touré moved to Premier League club Manchester City and helped the club earn their first league title in 44 years.

His excellent vision and spacial recognition allows Yaya Toure to read plays and use gaps of space better than most. Even though his size was an obstacle, much like it was for another similar-profiled player named Patrick Vieira, the Ivory Coast international turned into an advantage, using his strength to shield the ball from opponents and get through them when he couldn’t get around them. He also has a powerful foot and a knack for scoring in the nick of time, even as a substitute. He’s by far and away the best African midfielder of all time.

Yaya Toure just recently signed a contract to play for Olympiacos.