5 forgotten African heroes
While an African side has yet to win the World Cup, there can be no denying that some of the world’s greatest players have at times been produced by the continent – right now Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang immediately come to mind, for instance.
Plenty of African players have found themselves at the top of the sport – the likes of Samuel Eto’o and George Weah – but others succeeded massively only to somehow become forgotten today. Here are five African heroes – who have become lost to the sands of time in the modern game.
#5 Mustapha Hadji
Moroccan attacker Mustapha Hadji rose to fame in the late 1990s, primarily after starring for Morocco in their group stage games at the 1998 World Cup, where he scored a cracking goal against Norway. Morocco were unlucky to be eliminated in the group stage, but Hadji did enough to earn himself the African Footballer of the Year Award for 1998 – becoming the first non-Western African player to win the award in two decades.
Perhaps the reason for Hadji becoming forgotten today lies within his club career – despite being one of the finest attacking midfielders in the world in his prime, Hadji never really got to the highest point of the game due to the clubs he played for. He won minor trophies with Nancy in France and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, but at the peak of his powers, he plied his trade at mid-table Coventry in the Premier League.
Hadji’s time at the club coincided with their most successful period, and he was so popular with the fans – helping them to a famous Boxing Day win over Arsenal in 2000 – that they took to wearing Moroccan ‘fez’ hats in tribute to the player. Coventry’s relegation in 2001 signalled the beginning of the end for Hadji, as his career petered out following short stints at Aston Villa and Espanyol. But at his best, he was a scintillating attacker, one of the very finest in the world.