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Africa’s best XI in the history of the Uefa Champions League

Africa’s best XI in the history of the Uefa Champions League

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Goal.com takes a look at Africa’s all-time best 11 in the Uefa Champions League history

SPECIAL
By Edmund Okai Gyimah

African players have been ever present in the Uefa Champions League over the years with a sizeable number of them including Sulley Muntari, Geremi Njitap, Abedi Pele, Michael Essien Mikel Obi, Seydou Keita and others winning the trophy.

As this year’s tournament reaches its twilight with the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Dortmund all hoping to win the glittering trophy, Goal.com's Edmund Okai Gyimah takes a look at Africa’s all-time best 11 in the Uefa Champions League history.

Africa's Best XI

in The History of the Uefa CL

GOALKEEPER

Vincent Enyeama
(Hapoel Tel Aviv, Lille Metropole)

Enyeama scored his first goal of the 2010–11 season with a penalty against Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League qualifiers for Hapoel TelAviv. The current Nigeria No. 1 moved to French Ligue 1 side Lille on a three-year contract from Israeli side Hapoel TelAviv in 2007. He made his debut on 18 October 2011 against Inter Milan in the 2012 Uefa Champions League group stage, where Inter managed a 1–0 victory. He played a couple of games for Lille in Europe before heading back to Israel again to join Maccabi Tel Aviv on loan.
DEFENDERS

Emmanuel Eboue (Arsenal, Galatasary


Samuel Kuffour (Bayern Munich)


Noureddine Naybet (Deportivo La Coruna)


Celestine Babayaro (Aderlecht, Chelsea)

Emmanuel Eboue, who now plies his trade with Turkish Champions Galatasary, made all the headlines in the Uefa Champions League during his stay with the Gunners. Eboue played key roles for Arsenal in the 2005-2006 Uefa Champions League campaign which included games in the knockout stage against Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal and also featured in the finals against Barcelona. He moved to Galatasary in 2011-2012 season and became an integral part of the team scoring his first Champions League goal for them in their 3-2 win over Real Madrid on April, 9, 2013. Samuel Kuffour: The former Ghana Black Stars defender is undoubtedly the most decorated African player in the history of European football having won every major trophy. Kuffour is the African player with most appearances in the history of the Uefa Champions League (65). And also holds the record of being the youngest defender in the history of the competition (18 years, 61 days) when he scored for Bayern Munich during their 2-2 draw with Spartak Moscow on November 2, 1994. Kuffour was also part of the Bayern team which lost to Manchester United due to two late goals in the 1999 Uefa Champions League final despite putting the brakes on Andy Cole, and Dwight Yorke. He also won the champions league in 2001 with Bayern Munich who beat Valencia in the finals.
Noureddine Naybet: One of the best defenders ever in the history of the Spanish La Liga, the Moroccan was the heartbeat of Depotivo La Coruna during his eight-year stay and was always a dominant figure in their Uefa Champions League campaigns. Naybet made his greatest career run with Spanish first division team Deportivo La Coruna, winning one league title, one Copa de Rey and two Spanish Super Cups. Naybet also earned 115 caps for the Moroccan national team, scoring two goals.
The unyielding guardsman will be best remembered for putting the breaks on Andriy Shevchenko, Filipo Inzaghi and co. as Deportivo recovered from a first leg 4-1 defeat to Milan at San Siro to beat them 4-0 in the return leg in Spain during the 2003-2004 Uefa Champions League. Celestine Babayaro:
The left-back joined Belgian giants Anderlecht in 1994 as a teenager but quickly established himself as the club’s first-choice left-back playing in all their Uefa Champions League campaign as well as domestic games. After moving to Chelsea in 1997, Babayaro continued his impressive part and played key role as Chelsea reached the Uefa Champions League round of 16 in 2000 before losing to Barcelona at Nou Camp after extra time and also played a part when they reached the semi-finals in the 2003-2004 season in which coach Claudio Ranieri rotated him and Wayne Bridge.
MIDFIELDERS

Michael Essien (Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid)

Yaya Toure (Barcelona, Manchester City)


Abedi Ayew Pele (Marseille)
Michael Essien: He played in the Uefa Champions League for the first time during the 2003-04 season when he was at Olympique Lyonnais and scored against Bayern Munich and a host of other clubs. When the man nicknamed “The Bison” moved to Chelsea, he played his first Champions League game for the Blues against Real Betis where he was phenomenal and went on to became one of the kingpins of the Chelsea team in Uefa Champions League campaign. The midfield extraordinaire who played in the final with Chelsea during the 2007-08 season will be fairly remembered by fans for his thunderous volley at the edge of the box against Barcelona and also running with the ball from right-back position to set up Didier Drogba for Chelsea’s second goal as the London-based club drew 2-2 with Barcelona at Camp Nou during the 2006-07 season.
He was also part of the Chelsea team which won the trophy last season and has also being efficient for Real Madrid in their Champions League campaign. Yaya Toure: The Ivorian midfield dynamo was very essential for Barcelona in their 2009 and 2011 Uefa Champions League victory where he played a number of positions in midfield and in defence. Toure scored his first Uefa Champions League goal for Barcelona against Schalke 04 in the 2007-08 Champions League quarter-finals. Since joining Manchester City in 2010, Toure has been superb in their Champions League outings though the team is yet to reach the knockout stage in the history of the competition. Abedi Ayew Pele: Abedi Pele was one of the first African players to grace European football and he really carved a niche for himself in the French Ligue 1 where he represented clubs such as Lille Metropore, Lyon and Marseille. It was really Marseille that the maestro shot into the limelight by helping them to win the Uefa Champions League in 1993. The former Ghana skipper mainly played behind striker Basile Boli or on the left wing for Marseille and in the Champions League final against AC Milan in which he won the best player award it was his cross which Boli headed into the net to secure the trophy.
FORWARDS

Samuel Eto’o Fils (Barcelona, Inter Milan)

George Weah (PSG, AC Milan)


Didier Drogba (Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasary)
Samuel Eto’o Fils: Eto’o netted six times for Barcelona during the 2005-06 Champions League title which included a goal in the finals and was awarded by Uefa as the best striker in the Champions League that season. Eto'o scored the opening goal in the 2009 final against Manchester United. Barcelona went on to win the final 2–0, thus becoming the only African to score in two Champions League finals. The Cameroonian striker joined Inter Milan in 2009 under Jose Mourinho and scored against Chelsea in the Champions League round of 16 game in London on March 16, 2010 and also played an important part as the Nerazzuris won the trophy which made him the first African to win the trophy thrice. George Weah:
Weah became the top scorer of the Uefa Champions League in 1994–95; and AC Milan (1995–1999), with whom he won the Italian league in 1996 and 1999. In 1995 he was named European Footballer of the Year and Fifa World Player of the Year. As successful as he was at club level, Weah was not able to bring over that success to the Liberian national team. He has done everything with the squad from playing to coaching to financing it, but failed to qualify for a single World Cup, falling just a point short in qualifying for the 2002 tournament. Didier Drogba: Drogba scored five goals in 2003-2004 Uefa Champions League group stage games for Marseille which included strikes against Liverpool in Anfield though the Stade Velodrome outfit could only place third in the group. During his eight years spell with Chelsea the Ivorian hitman saw it all in the Uefa Champions League, he netted five goals in his first campaign for the Blues in which they reached the semi-finals. In the 2005-2006 season where Chelsea reached the last 16 he scored only once. In the subsequent season he scored six in the Champions League including a 93rd-minute equaliser against Barcelona at Camp Nou and also propelled Chelsea to the finals a year later in which he scored some fantastic goals including a double against Liverpool but in the finals he was sent off in the 117th minute for slapping Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic and Chelsea went on to lose 6-5 on penalties. Various dodgy paths followed Drogba in the Champions League until he broke the jinx by solely winning the trophy for Chelsea in his last season for the club. At Galatasary where he is playing now, Drogba was instrumental in their Champions League quarter-finals berth where he scored a sublime back-heel in their game at home to Real Madrid in which they won 3-2 but failed to qualify.

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