1. Essam El-Hadary

    Essam El-Hadary

    The goalkeeper, once described by Didier Drogba as his toughest opponent, was part of Egypt's hat-trick of Nations Cup successes between 2006 and 2010, having already won the continental crown in 1998. 

    He's the World Cup's oldest ever player, and defeated Thomas N'Kono to advance to the Last 16 in the African Legends Cup of Nations.

  2. Thomas N'Kono former Espanyol goalkeeper
    La Liga

    Thomas N'Kono

    One of Africa’s greatest goalkeepers, N’Kono was twice named African Footballer of the Year and was first choice for Cameroon at two World Cups.

    Memorably, the Indomitable Lions went unbeaten—and didn’t concede a goal—during the 1982 edition, and N’Kono would go onto claim the Nations Cup two years later.

  3. Grobbelaar

    Bruce Grobbelaar

    Grobbelaar enjoyed an almost unparalleled club career for an African player, winning six English titles with Liverpool as well as the European Cup in 1984.

    He wrote his name in Anfield folklore with his performance in that final victory over AS Roma, but achieved very little during an international career with Zimbabwe.

  4. Al Ahly defender Wael Gomaa

    Wael Gomaa

    Gomaa was the rock at the heart of two of Africa’s most dominant sides; the Al-Ahly and Egypt teams who enjoyed such success during the last decade.

    He was a big-game player, and thrived against many of the continent’s best strikers during his trophy-laden career.

    Nonetheless, he endured a miserable time in the 2014 World Cup playoffs, when that fine Pharaohs side were extinguished by Ghana—losing 7-3 on aggregate.

  5. Samuel Kuffour
    Getty

    Sammy Kuffour

    Kuffour was brought to Europe by Torino aged just 13 after playing junior football in his native Ghana.

    Arguably the greatest African defender of all-time, he won the 2001 BBC African Footballer of the Year award and spent 12 successful years with Bayern Munich, where he won six league titles and four German Cups.

    He’s perhaps best remembered for breaking down in tears following Manchester United's two late goals to seal a 2-1 win over Bayern in the 1999 Uefa Champions League final.

    He featured in the 2006 World Cup for the Black Stars.

  6. Lauren Etame Meyer
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    Lauren

    Lauren was a key figure in Arsenal’s Invincibles side of the middle of the last decade, although he arguably never truly got the credit he deserved for his contribution.

    He began his career as a winger but moved to right-back in North London and won the double in 2002.

    With Cameroon, he won two Afcon titles, the Olympic gold in 2000, and featured in the World Cups of 1998 and 2002.

  7. Lucas Radebe and Nelson Mandela

    Lucas Radebe

    Radebe began his career as a goalkeeper before first being converted to a midfielder and then arguably one of the world’s greatest defenders.

    He swapped Kaizer Chiefs for Leeds United in 1994, and became a club legend at Elland Road despite winning precious little with the Whites.

    The Chief was one of the most respected players of his generation, dealing with many injuries but working hard to put his club and country before his physical concerns.

    He was a Nations Cup winner with South Africa in 1994, and played in two World Cups.

  8. Celestine Babayaro
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    Celestine Babayaro

    Babayaro sneaks into this squad as the sole left-back, but he's deserving of his spot.

    He represented the Super Eagles at the 1998 and 2002 editions, and was also part of the squad that won gold at the 1996 Olympics.

    He’s best known for his time at Chelsea, when he won the FA Cup, the Uefa Super Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup.

  9. Geremi Njitap of Real Madrid.
    StuForster /Allsport

    Geremi

    Geremi featured for Cameroon at two World Cups, although his talented generation arguably didn’t achieve all they ought to have done at either the 2002 or the 2006 events.

    Certainly, for the first tournament, the Indomitable Lions were arguably at their prime, and ought to have followed up on the dual Nations Cup successes of 2000 and 2002 with progression from the group stage.

    The versatile operator achieved great success with Chelsea and Real Madrid, winning league titles with both and the Champions League with the latter. He’d be a valuable, versatile asset to this squad.

  10. Michael Essien

    Michael Essien

    Even though some of his peak years were denied him due to injury, Essien achieved enough during his career to be celebrated as one of Africa’s all-time greats.

    After moving to Chelsea from Olympique Lyonnais in a big-money move in 2005 and quickly became a lynchpin in Jose Mourinho’s side.

    Before moving onto Real Madrid—on loan—and then AC Milan, the Bison won two Premier League titles, the Champions League and a whopping four FA Cups with the Pensioners.

  11. Yaya Toure

    Yaya Toure

    Between 2011 and 2014, Toure won the Caf African Footballer of the Year award on four consecutive occasions—an unparalleled feat that demonstrates his impact in the world game during those glorious campaigns.

    He won two Spanish titles and the Champions League before leaving Barcelona to Manchester City, but took his career to another level at Eastlands.

    He may have become something of a forgotten man at the Etihad Stadium, but his role in three Premier League wins will live forever in the club’s legacy, and he was an African champion in 2015.

  12. Doctor Khumalo of Bafana Bafana
    Gallo

    Doctor Khumalo

    16 valve was arguably the shining star in South Africa’s golden generation of the mid-1990s as Bafana Bafana emerged from apartheid to reach the pinnacle of the continental game.

    The midfield maestro never truly tested himself away from Kaizer Chiefs, for whom he was a key presence for the best part of 17 years, but ought to be considered among Africa’s greatest midfielders.

    The Nations Cup 1996 winner was an intelligent player, who was a key creative presence and also offered tireless energy in the heart of the park.

  13. Theophile Abega

    Theo Abega

    When Cameroon won their first African Cup of Nations title in 1984, Abega was the key man in a talented Indomitable Lions side.

    He was named Player of the Tournament, and netted in the final as Nigeria were dispatched 3-1, having earlier contributed two goals in the 4-1 group-stage victory over Togo.

    The Doctor, nicknamed as such due to his intelligence, also won two Caf Champions League titles with Canon Yaounde, and was the inspiration behind the golden era of the Cameroonian game.

  14. Ahmed Hassan Egypt
    Gettyimages

    Ahmed Hassan

    Hassan accrued an astonishing 184 caps with Egypt, making him the most capped male international footballer in the history of the game.

    While his 17-year international career was ultimately a frustrating affair in terms of World Cup qualification, Hassan was a part of a whopping four Afcon successes between 1998 and 2010.

    He also achieved success in Turkey and Belgium, unlike many of his compatriots who never ventured too far beyond Egypt’s shores.

  15. Pierre Wome of Cameroon, Jay-Jay Okocha of Nigeria

    Jay-Jay Okocha

    An Olympic gold-medal winner with Nigeria in 1996, Okocha also won the 1994 Nations Cup and shone at the 2004 edition.

    He represented the Super Eagles at three World Cups, and was named in the Team of the Tournament at the 1998 after catching the eye with his technique and outrageous footwork.

    The playmaker was named Nigeria Footballer of the Year on seven occasions, although he never won Caf’s African Footballer of the Year prize.

  16. Mohamed Aboutrika Egypt Africa Cup of Nations 2008
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    Mohamed Aboutrika

    Among the greatest players—if not the greatest—never to play in Europe or South America, Aboutrika was a key protagonist in Egypt’s Golden Generation of the last decade.

    However, he never featured in a World Cup due to that fine side’s inability to qualify, and a global audience were largely deprived the chance to witness this exquisite talent.

  17. Ghana's Abedi Pele chases the ball during Ghana's 2-1 victory today at Port Elizabeth in the First round of the 1996 African Cup of Nations

    ​Abedi Pele

    Ghana’s greatest ever player was a genuine African superstar of the early 1990s, and won the Champions League with Olympique de Marseille in 1993.

    He won the Nations Cup with the Black Stars 11 years earlier, and was named by Caf as the African Footballer of the Year on three occasions.

  18. Riyad Mahrez Algeria
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    Riyad Mahrez

    The Algeria international was part of the Leicester City team that won a miraculous Premier League in 2016, and has since added to that trophy haul emphatically since signing for Manchester City.

    His performance against Paris Saint-Germain across both legs of the Sky Blues’ Champions League semi-final was a joy to behold - perhaps the finest by any African player at this stage of the UCL - and he may yet become a European champion this weekend.

    The maestro was also an African champion with Algeria at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

  19. Mohamed Salah of Egypt in Kenya.
    Goal Kenya.

    Mohamed Salah

    Salah has become one of the world’s finest players since returning to England with Liverpool following a previous underwhelming stay with Chelsea.

    He’s won the Golden Boot twice and the Premier League title since leaving Italian football, and has fired Liverpool to two Champions League finals—winning the big one in 2019.

    His 2017-18 season, when he broke the Prem scoring record for goals scored in a 38-game top flight season, was among the finest individual campaign by an African player.

  20. Hossam Hassan
    Getty

    Hossam Hassan

    Hassan is Egypt’s all-time top scorer, having netted 70 goals in 169 league appearances.

    That return sees him make the cut here ahead of Bibo El-Khatib, and Hassan also enjoyed a World Cup appearance, having made the squad for the 1990 event.

    He featured in a whipping seven Afcon tournaments for the Pharaohs—winning three—and will surely rue not making the 2006 event as part of such a talented Egypt generation as they embarked on their spell of continental dominance.

  21. Samuel Eto'o
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    Samuel Eto'o

    The four-time African Footballer of the Year has won a swathe of major honours during a memorable career, and he was the inaugural winner of Goal's African Legends Cup of Nations.

    He’s a three-times Champions League winner, having won Europe’s grandest prize with Barcelona (twice) and Internazionale.

    However, his World Cup experiences have largely been underwhelming, with Cameroon failing to escape the group stage in his four tournaments.

  22. George Weah AC Milan
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    George Weah

    The only African player to win the Ballon d’Or is surely the continent’s greatest player never to play in the World Cup, and indeed, it would have taken a truly herculean effort for Weah to have dragged tiny Liberia to the top table.

    This mesmerising talent—and current Liberia President—won two Italian titles with AC Milan, and also enjoyed some success in England and France.

  23. Roger Milla Cameroon World Cup 1990
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    Roger Milla

    Perhaps the African player to be most readily associated with the world's grandest stage, Milla remains the tournament’s oldest goalscorer after netting in the 1994 edition at the ripe old age of 42.

    His greatest heroics, however, came in 1990 when he was influential as Cameroon became the first African side to reach the quarter-finals.

  24. Kanu Nwankwo
    Getty

    Nwankwo Kanu

    Kanu is arguably Nigeria’s greatest ever player, although he wasn’t present for the Golden Generation’s Nations Cup victory and the country’s first World Cup participation in 1994.

    He’d make up for that by reaching the Last 16 in 1998, although the Super Eagles failed to shine at either the 2002 or 2010 editions.

    Kanu enjoyed great success during a club career in which he was an Invincible at Arsenal and won the Champions League with Ajax.

  25. Didier Drogba Juan Mata Chelsea Bayern Munich Champions League Final 2012
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    Didier Drogba

    Drogba registered 104 Prem goals during his time with Chelsea, and no African had bettered his best single-season tally of 29 before Mohamed Salah during his first season at Liverpool.

    The Ivorian great enjoyed two prolific spells at Stamford Bridge, winning the Premier League, the FA Cup and the League Cup with the West London heavyweights.

    His finest achievement, of course, was the Champions League success in 2012, after which, he was duly voted as the Blues' greatest ever player.

  26. Sadio Mane Liverpool 2020-21
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    Sadio Mane

    What an option Mane would be in our all-time dream African squad.

    He’s been a Golden Boot winner in England and was a Premier League champion with Liverpool last season, even if things didn't entirely go to plan in 2020-21.

    The Senegal international has also excelled in the Champions League, reaching the final in 2018 before eventually winning Europe’s grandest prize in 2019.

    He’s also a former African Footballer of the Year.