Ranking the 5 greatest African players of all time

Nigeria v Burkina Faso - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final
Nigeria v Burkina Faso - 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final

Africa may not be home to the world's most famous football league, but the continent has been producing some of the world's best players over the years. Some of them have played at the highest levels of the game and won numerous awards in Europe.

African football has gotten better over the years, with several players from across the continent making waves at various top sides. Names like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Wilfred Ndidi, Kalidou Koulibaly, Riyad Mahrez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stand out as some of the best players in the world in recent times.

Then there were those who emerged from the continent and turned the football world on its head. We take a look at the five greatest players produced by Africa.

#5 Yaya Toure

Belgium v Ivory Coast - International Friendly
Belgium v Ivory Coast - International Friendly

Yaya Toure is easily the best midfielder Africa has ever produced. The Ivorian has clinched almost every trophy there is to be won. He was a powerhouse in midfield for many clubs across Europe, particularly Barcelona and Manchester City, where he achieved tremendous success.

Toure began his career with ASEC Mimosas before joining Belgian side Beveren on a free transfer in 2001. He then went on to play for Metalurh Donetsk, Olympiacos and Monaco followed by a move to Barcelona in 2007 and spending three years with the Catalan outfit, where he famously won the treble in his second season at the club.

Toure then joined Manchester City in 2010, where he was a key figure in the club's rise to stardom. In his debut season, he helped them win their first piece of silverware in 35 years. He spent seven more seasons at City before returning to Olympiacos in 2018.

On the international stage, Toure finished runner-up twice with Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations before finally captaining the country to triumph in 2015. His success for club and country saw him win the African Player of the Year award an unprecedented four times, a record he shares with Samuel Eto'o.

With 17 trophies bagged during his illustrious career, Toure is, without doubt, one of the most decorated African players of all time.

#4 Nwankwo Kanu

Nigeria v South Korea: Group B - 2010 FIFA World Cup
Nigeria v South Korea: Group B - 2010 FIFA World Cup

Nwankwo Kanu is widely regarded as one of the greatest players Nigeria has ever produced. The two-time African Player of the Year began his career at Nigerian league side Federation Works before joining Iwuanyanwu Nationale in 1992 where he won the Nigerian Premier League trophy.

Kanu left Iwuanyanwu for Ajax the following year and was part of the squad which won the Champions League in 1995. Although he was scarcely used in his first two seasons, he became a team regular in his third and final season at the club, playing 39 games in all competitions and winning a third straight Eredivisie title.

Kanu then moved to Italy and joined Inter Milan, where he spent two seasons and won the Europa League before joining Premier League side Arsenal in 1998. The Nigerian spent six years at Arsenal, winning five trophies, and was part of the Invincibles side which went unbeaten throughout the league season in 2004.

After leaving Arsenal in 2004, Kanu remained in England. He played for West Brom and then Portsmouth, where he spent the rest of his career.

The Nigerian striker won 14 trophies throughout his career at club level and also clinched an Olympic gold medal with the Nigerian U-23 team in 1996.

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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