Former Barcelona and Cameroon‘s striker, Samuel Eto’o Fils some days back called it time on his illustrious career which spanned over twenty years and various clubs scoring around 300 goals in just over 500 appearances
The Indomitable Lions all-time goalscorer made his national team debut at the age of 15 and during the span of his career, he finished winner of the African Cup of Nations twice, first in 2000 and two years later. In fact, he is the all-time highest goalscorer in the African Cup of Nations with 18goals.
He also won Africa player of the year, four times a feat no other African player has been able to repeat so far, his club career has even been more glamorous and trophy-laden, playing for a plethora of clubs which included Barcelona, Inter Milan, where he won his second successive treble just a season after leaving Barcelona.
With this number of achievements and many others, it wasn’t out of place when many started seeing him as Africa’s best football player of all time even according to some, better than George Weah who is still the only African football to be named the best player in the world.
However, as expected this is still being debated across the board on different bases and bias possible, for some it is about his style of play compared to others, while to some the comparison is linked to solely finding who should be referred as Africa’s best striker between he and Ivorian, Didier Drogba.
In this write-up, we try to identify the few frontmen from Africa who can be mentioned in the same line with the Cameroonian who came third in 2005 FIFA best player award. Here’s a quick look at the top African Greatest Strikers of all time:
Certainly needs no introduction as the now 25th president of Liberia, was then a big superstar on the footballing scene, playing with some of Europe’s finest football club including PSG, Chelsea, Monaco, Marseille, and AC Milan amongst others.
In over 400 total club appearances he scored about 200 goals in his club career which he started at Bong Range Rovers, he also played at some African clubs including Tonnerre Yaounde in Cameroon where incidentally, Roger Milla had one of his finest stints too.
In 1995, he made waves after becoming the first African to win the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or, and since then the only African player to win these awards.
He also won the African Footballer of the year In 1989, he then followed with two more awards in 1994 and 1995, the latter which seemed the magic year for the Liberian winning UEFA Champions League Top Scorer: 1994–95, BBC African Footballer of the Year: 1995, Ballon d’Or: 1995, FIFA World Player of the Year: 1995 following it with the FIFA Fair Play Award in 1996, and silver award at the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996.
Unfortunately, Liberia status as a football minnow deprived Weah of a chance to feature at the FIFA World Cup but he did enough to lead them to two Africa cup of Nations appearance in 1998 and 1992.
Eto’s fellow national, Roger Milla may have attained international stardom and recognition with his feat as the then oldest player to have played at the FIFA world cup in Italia 1990 after been persuaded by the country’s then-president to come out of retirement and represent the Indomitable Lions at the age of 38.
He heeded the call and as well featured and scored at the 1994 FIFA World cup at the age of 42 becoming the oldest goalscorer at the World Cup. His unique celebration at the 1990 World Cup may be what many remember Milla for but those who saw him play and his statistics speak volumes that he is more than just a late bloomer.
Milla scored 43 goals in 77 games for the Indomitable Lions, an average of 1 goal in every two games, a stat that Eto struggled to meet albeit slightly. In club football, Roger Milla plied his trade majorly in Cameroon and France with As Monaco, Valenciennes, Saint- Etienne amongst many others.
His awards include Cameroon Première Division: 1972 in and 1973, African Cup Winners’ Cup in 1975, Coupe de France in 1979-80 with Monaco and another Coupe de France triumph with Bastia in 1980–1981 and two Africa cup of Nations title in 1984 & 1988.
Individually, he was deemed African Footballer of the Year in 1976 and 1990, Africa Cup of Nations Best Player in 1986, African cup of Nations Top Scorer in 1986 and 1988, FIFA World Cup Bronze Boot in 1990 and FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in the same year.
Although, Eto may have been able to dwarf his achievements on the national and club scenes but Old Roger Milla was certainly Gold.
Ivorian striker and Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba reigned during the same time with Samuel Eto, but his consistency and achievement at Chelsea rivaled the Cameroonian striker.
It is difficult to think of a legendary striker at the London club than the man who arrived in 2004 from Marseille and etched his name into the English Premier League history and indeed Chelsea’s, warming his way into the heart of the blue fans.
In 220 appearances, Drogba scored over 100 goals leading a new chapter in the clubs history, winning 4 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 3 league cup and the Uefa Champions League. He also won the League and League cup in Turkey with Galatasaray.
Despite being Ivory coast’s record goalscorer, Drogba could not win the AFCON with the Elephants, although he finished twice as runners up in 2012 and 2005, he also led the team to their first-ever FIFA World Cup appearance in 2006. He won two African player of the year awards and also was nominated for the 2009 FIFA best player award.
Father to current Black star captain, Andre Ayew and his sibling Jordan Ayew, Abedi Pele was a force for Ghana during his career, in fact up till the Marseille legend is still considered Ghana’s best player ever.
Furthermore, he was the first African player to be nominated for the FIFA best player award in 1992 and 1993, even before George Weah became the first African recipient.
Pele led Marseille to their first and only Uefa Champions League trophy and also had successful stints with Lyon and Lille, making over 450 appearances and scoring over 150 goals.
Although his records were surpassed by Asamoah Gyan as Ghana’s highest goalscorer, Pele is still a big part of Ghana’s footballing history with 73 appearances and 33 goals. He also has the highest number of African cup of Nations appearances with 8 tournament involvements and won 3 African players of the year award.
Just like Drogba, Kanu had an illustrious club career winning the EPL with Arsenal twice and also was part of the invincibles in 2003 and also won the Fa Cup there times, twice with the gunners and once with Portsmouth, he won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995 and the Dutch Eredivisie.
With Nigeria, he failed to win the AFCON, but he won the 1993 African cup of Nations, 1996 Olympics Gold medal where he played a big part and also featured at the world cup severally.
He won 2 African players of the year awards and is considered won of the best African exports despite suffering a heart problem at Inter.
We can’t finish this without giving honorary mentions to a few other African strikers who have make great exploits both on African soil and abroad: Emmanuel Adebayor, El Hadj Diouf, Tony Yeboah, Benni McCarthy, Emmanuel Amunike, Hossam Hassan, Rasheed Yekini, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Mahmoud El-Khatib and lastly Patrick Mboma.
Finally, the argument as who out of the six players talked about in this write up, is the best will always be argued, the argument does not look like one which will end anytime soon as the likes of Salah, Sadio Mane, and Aubameyang are making new exploits and breaking new grounds, but on the bright side, it’s a good statement to show that African football is not a dry land for talents.
However, if you have your prefered list, please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comment box.
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