Finidi George: Nigeria & Ajax legend reveals why he was never named African Player of the Year

Finidi GeorgeGetty

Finidi George has opened up on why he never won the African Player of the Year award during his playing career.

Considered one of Africa’s greatest wingers of all time, the former Nigeria international enjoyed a trophy laden-career that spanned 15 years.

At Ajax, he helped the Dutch team win the Champions League, three Eredivisie titles, two Dutch Super Cups and a Uefa Super Cup.

On the international scene, he was part of the Super Eagles squad that won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and also represented the country in their maiden edition of the Fifa World Cup the same year.

Even at that, he was never bestowed the honour of being the best African player - a feat achieved by his former international teammates namely: Rasheed Yekini, Emmanuel Amuneke, Victor Ikpeba and Nwankwo Kanu.

As he turned 51 on Friday, he talked about his playing career while explaining why he was never considered for the continent’s biggest individual football prize.

“Maybe I should have won, but during my time it was very difficult because we had great strikers scoring goals like George Weah, Rasheed Yekini and Kalusha Bwalya,” George told GOAL.

“Also, you are regarded as the best considering the number of goals you score. Back then, all round players were not favourites to win. It was all about the strikers.

“When you score like 25 goals in Europe and you don’t even do much for your country, you will still be regarded as the best. I gave more assists than scoring goals, so that worked against me.”

Finidi George

Even at that, the winger who enjoyed spells at Real Betis, Ipswich Town, and Real Mallorca feels fulfilled - claiming he won the ‘important trophies’.

“I don’t have any regret,” he continued. “I had a fabulous career that so many players of today would love to emulate. 

“I didn’t win over 30 trophies, but I would say I won the important ones. Looking back, I will say I did my best.”

One competition that George would have loved to participate in was the 1996 Olympics - where the Dream Team saw off Brazil and Argentina to claim the gold medal in the United States of America. 

“It was unfortunate that I was not part of the overaged players taken to the tournament,” he added.

“I would have loved to be a part of that team, but it was impossible for me to force myself in. 

“The coaches picked the players they felt were going to help the team and I was disappointed not making the cut. 

“Nonetheless, we were all happy for the victory but I would have loved to be a part.”

Currently the head coach of Nigeria Professional League side Enyimba, he will serve as assistant to the yet to be announced Super Eagles foreign coach.

Will Taiwo Awoniyi's Nottingham Forest avoid relegation this season?

3131 Votes

Thanks for voting.

Results will be shared soon.

Will Taiwo Awoniyi's Nottingham Forest avoid relegation this season?

  • 39%Yes
  • 61%No
3131 Votes