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5 forgotten African heroes

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
Timeless

#4 Finidi George

Finidi George routinely destroyed defenders as part of the famous mid-90s Ajax side
Finidi George routinely destroyed defenders as part of the famous mid-90s Ajax side

Nigeria’s Finidi George was named by the International Federation of Football History as the 10th best African player of the century, and it was for good reason – he was one of the brightest stars in Ajax’s 1994/95 Champions League winning side, and his raids into the opposition’s box from the right side of Ajax’s midfield made him one of the most menacing wingers in all of European football.

At the international level, Finidi represented Nigeria at two World Cups – 1994 and 1998 – helping them to a famous 3-2 win over Spain in the group stages of the latter, before the Super Eagles were eliminated by Denmark in the round of 16. He also won the African Cup of Nations in 1994 and scored the first penalty for Nigeria in their semi-final shootout win over the Ivory Coast.

After a narrowly missed opportunity to defend the Champions League title – Ajax lost to Juventus in the 1995/96 final – Finidi moved to Real Betis in Spain where he helped the club to an all-time best fourth place in La Liga in his first season. A stint at Ipswich Town in England was less fruitful, but Finidi would always be considered a legend by those who witnessed him destroying the opponents of Ajax in the mid 90s.

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