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African All Stars

Goal 50: African Legacy Edition

14:37 GMT+3 11/11/2019
Kanu Nwankwo
Which African legends would have made Goal’s list in years gone by?

  • Kanu Nwankwo

    Goal 50

    African players have featured in the Goal 50 regularly since the list was inaugurated in 2008. However, which of the continent’s legends would have made the list in the years before our celebration of the world’s finest players began?

    In this gallery, we look back at some of Africa’s greats who graced the game in the pre-Goal 50 years, and imagine which of them might have made the cut.

  • George Weah Roger Hitoto Jacob Friis Hansen Paris Saint Germain Lille 22 March 1995

    George Weah, 1995

    As the Ballon d’Or winner in 1995, Weah would have been a shoo-in for the Goal 50 and indeed, would have been a safe bet to feature in the upper echelons of the list.

    He was also named Fifa’s World Player of the Year and the European Footballer of the Year at this same time, and he was the top scorer in the 1994-95 Champions League.

    Would the Goal editors have voted the current Liberia President into top spot?

  • Samuel Kuffour

    Samuel Kuffour, 2001

    2002 was a disappointing year for the Ghana centre-back, as he was sent home early from the Nations Cup after “unruly behaviour”. However, 2001 was a magnificent year for the defender and surely, for his performances for Bayern Munich, he would have made the list.

    Kuffour won both the Bundesliga and the Champions League with the German giants, and also found the net against Boca Juniors in the final of the Club World Cup.

    A certainty for the Goal 50 in 2001!

  • Roger Milla Cameroon World Cup 1990

    Roger Milla

    Roger Milla would have been a contender to feature in the Goal 50 on several occasions in the 1980s and early 90s. He top scored and was the Player of the Tournament at the 1986 Africa Cup of Nations and won the tournament in both 1984 and 1988.

    Beyond that, he’d surely have made the cut in 1990, where he bagged four at the World Cup and was African Player of the Year.

    Could he have also snuck into the top 50 in 1994, when he became the oldest goalscorer in World Cup history?

  • Bruce Grobbelaar

    ​Bruce Grobbelaar, 1984

    Grobbelaar would have been a dead-cert to make the Goal 50 in 1984 when he was influential in Liverpool’s European Cup victory, as his bendy legs and expert penalty saves proved decisive in the final shootout against AS Roma.

    He also won the English title and the Intercontinental Cup for the Reds.

  • Jay-Jay Okocha

    Jay-Jay Okocha

    Despite his major achievements with the Super Eagles during the 1990s—both as an African and an Olympic champion—we’d love to see where Okocha would rank in the Goal 50 for 2004.

    It was an exceptional year for the playmaker, as he guided Bolton Wanderers to the final of the League Cup, dazzled at the Nations Cup and won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award for the second consecutive campaign.

  • Geremi Njitap

    Geremi, 2000

    There aren’t too many African players who have achieved more success in a single calendar year as Geremi in 2000.

    He won an Olympic gold medal and the Nations Cup as part of an outstanding Cameroon side, and won the Champions League with Real Madrid.

  • ARSENAL GOALSCORER Nwankwo Kanu

    Nwankwo Kanu

    In a career punctured by major successes, the Nigeria forward might have fancied his chances of making the Goal 50 on several occasions during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

    He’d surely have made the cut in 1995 or 1996, years when he achieved major honours—including two Dutch titles and the Champions League with Ajax—and won the Nations Cup with Nigeria.

    He was African Footballer of the Year in ’96, and in 1999, where he scored six in 12 for Arsenal.

  • Rabah Madjer - Algeria

    Rabah Madjer, 1987

    1987 was Madjer’s year as the Algeria forward was named Africa Player of the Year and played a key role in FC Porto’s European Cup success.

    His excellent equaliser against Bayern Munich in the final in Vienna turned the tide in his side’s favour and placed him alongside the likes of Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o as African goalscorers in the UCL final.

  • Abedi Pele

    Abedi Pele

    Abedi Pele would surely have featured prominently in the Goal 50 during the early 1990s, during his glittering spell with Olympique de Marseille.

    He won the Champions League with OM in 1993, two years after being a defeated finalist, and was also the Afcon Player of the Tournament in ’92, when Ghana were defeated finalists.

    Could he have completed a hat-trick of Goal 50 appearances during those glorious years for OM?

  • Rashidi Yekini Nigeria Bulgaria 1994 World Cup

    Rashidi Yekini

    It’s telling that, when Nigeria’s Golden Generation conquered the continent at the 1994 Nations Cup, it was Yekini, the Bull of Kaduna, who was named as the Player of the Tournament.

    Surely, if any of that great side were to have made the list in ’94—and you’d suspect one or two might—it would be Yekini, who scored twice in the quarters against Zaire and the equaliser against the Cote d’Ivoire in the semis.

    At the World Cup, later that year, he scored the Super Eagles’ first-ever goal in the competition with the opener against Bulgaria.