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African All Stars

African stars in the Goal 50: A history

11:13 PM SGT 11/11/19
Vincent Enyeama of LOSC Lille
Ahead of the return of the Goal 50, we look back at each of the times that African stars have made the list

  • Sadio Mane Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2019-20

    The Goal 50

    The Goal 50 returns this week as we celebrate the world’s finest players based on their individual performances, their successes and their consistency over the past 12 months.

    As we await the unveiling of the 50 names, and anticipate the African players who will feature on the 2019 list, Goal remember the continent’s stars who have made the Goal 50 in past years.

    Which names will follow in these famous footsteps this time around?

  • Josep Guardiola Samuel Eto'o Barcelona Almeria La Liga 10252008

    ​2008: #38 Samuel Eto’o

    Eto’o was one of two African stars to feature in the first ever Goal 40, making the cut after impressing at the 2008 Nations Cup—where he finished top scorer—before ending the Liga BBVA season with 16 goals for Barcelona.

    The striker had the best goals-to-minutes ratio of all of the strikers in the Spanish top flight during the 2007-08 campaign, and ended the first part of the 2008-09 season with 15 strikes in 14 Primera starts under new Barca boss Pep Guardiola.

  • Adebayor 2008

    ​2008: #27 Emmanuel Adebayor

    2008 was a pivotal year for the Togo international, and while it ended with controversy on and off the field, he scored 30 times for Arsenal in all competitions, including two hat-tricks and his 50th goal for the club.

    He also hit four in one match for the national side, was courted by AC Milan and Barcelona, and secured a lucrative new contract with the Gunners that effectively doubled his salary. 

  • Mohamed Aboutrika of Al Ahly

    ​2009: #45 Mohamed Aboutrika

    Aboutrika again helped Al Ahly to the title, helping the Egyptian giants move on from the disappointment of a frustrated campaign in the Caf Champions League.

    Goal’s inaugural legend of the week also won the African Super Cup during another vintage year.

  • Samuel Eto'o Barcelona 2009

    ​2009: #9 Samuel Eto’o

    In one of the highest ever placements by an African player, Eto’o made the Goal 50 top 10 after an outstanding 2008-09 campaign with Barcelona.

    He initially survived Guardiola’s overhaul of the Catalan giants’ squad, and forged a devastating forward line with Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.

    He ended the season on 30 goals, two behind Pichichi winner Diego Forlan.

  • Balotelli Eto'o Inter

    ​2010: #30 Samuel Eto’o

    Eto'o dropped 21 places in the Goal 50, but still made the cut after an excellent start to life at Internazionale, where he helped the Italian giants to the Champions League.

    It was his third title, although, while he bagged twice in the 2010 World Cup, he wasn’t able to help the Indomitable Lions escape the group stage.

  • Didier Drogba - Chelsea - 2009/2010

    ​2010: #11 Didier Drogba

    Drogba was made to wait until 2010 for his first appearance in the Goal 50, but there was little doubt that he’d make the cut this year after an excellent campaign for Chelsea in which he won the Premier League Golden Boot award.

    He also helped the Blues clinch the title—ending a four-year wait—and finished the year with a remarkable 37 goals in 44 matches.

  • Yaya Toure African - Player of the Year 2011

    ​2011: #41 Yaya Toure

    It wasn’t the Ivorian’s best season at Eastlands, but he still almost single-handedly spearheaded the club's triumphant run in the FA Cup, netting the winner in consecutive matches against Manchester United and Stoke at Wembley.

    He also helped Roberto Mancini’s side reach the Champions League and was the club’s second-highest scorer after Carlos Tevez.

  • Moussa Sow Eden Hazard Gervinho Lille 2011

    ​2011: #43 Gervinho

    Gervinho made the cut in 2011 shortly after signing for Arsenal, and before things unravelled for him in North London.

    He outscored and contributed more assists than Eden Hazard during LOSC Lille’s title-winning campaign, and notably bagged a series of important goals as Les Dogues clinched the Ligue 1 crown.

  • Samuel Eto'o Inter

    ​2011: #15 Samuel Eto’o

    Eto'o set a new personal record with 37 goals in a single club season, beating his previous best that he achieved at Camp Nou in 2008-09 by a single strike, helping Inter to bounce back after a tricky start to the season under Jose Mourinho’s successor Rafael Benitez.

    He also scored twice in the Italian Cup final victory over Palermo.

  • Youssef Msakni Lekhwia Qatar

    ​2012: #48 Youssef Msakni

    Msakni lit up the 2011 CAF Champions League, scoring five goals as he propelled Esperance to the final, where they brushed aside Wydad Casablanca.

    The 21-year-old was also top goalscorer as Esperance retained the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1, while many outside Europe sat up and took notice of his two fine goals for Tunisia during their disappointing African Cup of Nations campaign in January.

    He earned a €11.5 million move to Qatari outfit Lekhwiya in July 2012.

  • Christopher Katongo of Zambia

    ​2012: #42 Christopher Katongo

    The Zambia captain was the driving figure behind their unforgettable African Cup of Nations triumph in January, inspiring his team-mates and fans alike with his leadership and skill.

    The forward’s performances in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea deservedly saw him named Player of the Tournament, while the Zambian president Michael Chilufya also promoted the veteran to the position of Warrant Officer Class, so impressed was he by the star's inspirational performances for the Chipolopolo.

  • YAYA TOURE MANCHESTER CITY DAVID SOLGA DYNAMO DRESDEN FRIENDLY 17012012

    ​2012: #9 Yaya Toure

    Toure led Manchester City to their first title in 44 years and was influential throughout the campaign, proving his class with his driving runs, acceleration and leadership skills.

    His two late goals against Newcastle United in City's penultimate league game of the season epitomised his determination and dragged City's title challenge back from the brink of defeat, allowing them the fairytale ending to the season the following week against Queens Park Rangers.

  • Drogba UCL 2012

    ​2012: #6 Didier Drogba

    Drogba had a crucial impact for Chelsea, scoring the winner in the FA Cup final victory over Liverpool and scoring the only goal of the game in the decisive Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.

    His key contribution, of course, came in the UCL final, when he equalised in the 88th minute against Bayern Munich, before netting the winning penalty as the Blues became the first London club to win the continent’s top prize.

  • Itumeleng Khune, Kaizer Chiefs, December 2013

    ​2013: #45 Itumeleng Khune

    Khune enjoyed a stand-out season as captain of Kaizer Chiefs’ double-winning side, keeping 12 clean sheets in 29 matches as Amakhosi claimed the PSL title.

    He was named the division’s Player of the Season and shone in the Nedbank Cup, while also helping Bafana Bafana reach the quarter-finals of the Nations Cup.

  • Victor Wanyama of Celtic

    ​2013: #44 Victor Wanyama

    Wanyama was the driving force in midfield as Celtic claimed the league and cup double, and was one of the stars of the Champions League group stages, with the Glasgow side overcoming the odds to eliminate Benfica and stun Barcelona.

    The then-22-year-old opened the scoring and was a powerhouse throughout as Celtic beat Messi & Co 2-1 at Celtic Park, before moving to Southampton in a £12.5 million deal.

  • Mohamed Aboutrika Al Ahly

    ​2013: #29 Mohamed Aboutrika

    The 34-year-old opted to retire from football following the Port Said stadium tragedy, where he reportedly treated the injured and dying in the Al-Ahly dressing room.

    He eventually returned, vowing to honour the 79 fans who died, and more than fulfilled his promise, starring at the London Olympics by scoring against Belarus and Brazil, and helping Egypt to the World Cup qualifying play-offs.

    He was also crowned Caf’s Africa-based Player of the Year for a record third time.

  • Sunday Mba - Afcon 2013

    ​2013: #24 Sunday Mba

    Mba made his one and only appearance in Goal’s list in 2013, the year when he played such a major—if unexpected—role in Nigeria’s Nations Cup success.

    The unheralded midfielder scored the winner in the quarter-final against the Cote d’Ivoire, and then struck the only goal of the game in the final victory over Burkina Faso, ending Nigeria’s 19-year wait for a continental crown.

  • Nadir Belhadj - Al sadd - Qatar

    ​2014: #48 Nadir Belhadj

    An intriguing inclusion in the Goal 50, Belhadj won the Qatari Player of the Year award after his performances in the Qatar Stars League for Al Sadd and helped them win the Prince Cup. 
  • Serge Aurier Toulouse

    ​2014 #44 Serge Aurier

    This was the season where the young Ivorian emerged as one of Europe’s most promising full-backs, scoring six goals and providing six assists for Toulouse, earning a move to Paris Saint-Germain in the process.

    Aurier also shone at the World Cup for Ivory Coast, despite their group-stage exit. He created two goals in the victory over Japan and confirmed why he is so admired for his crossing.

  • Abdelmoumene Djabou of Algeria

    ​2014 #40 Abdelmoumene Djabou

    Djabou was one of the stars of Algeria’s run to the World Cup Last 16, scoring twice at the finals—against Germany and in the victory over South Korea—and was influential in the draw against Russia.

    He also dazzled for Tunisian side Club Africain.

  • Gervinho Roma

    ​2014 #37 Gervinho

    Gervinho had become something of a laughing stock during a miserable couple of seasons at Arsenal but silenced the doubters at AS Roma where he rebuilt his reputation with 12 goals in all competitions.

    He also contributed nine assists in Serie A, and scored twice at the World Cup—including a wondergoal against Colombia.

  • Asamoah Gyan Germany Ghana World Cup 2014 Group G 06212014

    ​2014 #35 Asamoah Gyan

    Gyan again demonstrated that he was one of the best African forwards of his generation and one of Ghana’s all-time greats at the World Cup where he found the net against Germany and Portugal to become the highest African goalscorer in the history of the tournament.

    At club level, Gyan won the UAE President Cup for Al Ain, scoring in every round of the competition – including the winner in the final.

    With 29 goals in 26 matches, he was the UAE Pro-League’s top scorer for the third season in a row.

  • Vincent Enyeama, Samuel Eto'o

    ​2014 #27 Vincent Enyeama

    Enyeama enjoyed a superb season with LOSC Lille, at one point going an incredible 1,062 minutes—almost three months—without conceding.

    This put him second in the all-time Ligue 1 list for minutes without conceding as Lille launched an unlikely early title challenge.

    They finished the season in third to qualify for the Champions League. The former Enyimba man also helped Nigeria to the World Cup and was one of the competition’s best goalkeepers.

  • Yaya Toure Dejan Lovren Manchester City Southampton Premier League 05042014

    ​2014 #19 Yaya Toure

    Toure enjoyed his most prolific season at Manchester City in 2013-14, scoring 24 goals as Manuel Pellegrini’s men sealed their second Premier League title and the Capital One Cup.

    He became only the second central midfielder in history, after Frank Lampard, to score 20 goals or more in an EPL campaign and was the driving force behind City’s two triumphs, inspiring a comeback in the Capital One Cup final by grabbing the equaliser and contributing four assists and two goals in the decisive final four league games of the season.

  • Yaya Toure Manchester City 21112015

    ​2015: #25 Yaya Toure

    Toure didn’t claim any club silverware in 2015 but that hasn't stopped him excelling for Manchester City - and earning a fourth Goal 50 outing in five years.

    The midfielder, 32, continued to be a key player for Manuel Pellegrini's men, while he became an Ivory Coast legend by lifting the Africa Cup of Nations title with his country.

  • Sadio Mane Goal 50

    ​2016: #39 Sadio Mane

    Many questioned whether Liverpool had paid over the odds when they parted with £34 million (€41m) to sign the 24-year-old winger from Southampton.

    However, right from his stunning debut goal against Arsenal, Mane proved to be an absolute revelation, and quickly established himself as a fan favourite at Anfield.

    Sadly, injuries and suspensions have punctuated his progression over the last 12 months, and it remains to be seen whether he will retain his spot in the Goal 50.

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Dortmund Pre-Season 2016

    ​2016: #16 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    The hitman was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season for the 2015-16 campaign—scoring 25 in 31—and 12 months ago, was well on his way to topping that tally en route to the Top Scorer gong.

    He also helped BVB break the Champions League record for goals scored in a single group campaign, even though he didn’t ultimately secure the move away that he’d been hankering for.

  • Riyad Mahrez celebrates Leicester Swansea 24042016

    ​2016: #7 Riyad Mahrez

    The Algeria maestro broke into the Top 10 after a stunning year in which he inspired Leicester City to a miraculous Premier League title.

    Alongside Jamie Vardy and N’Golo Kante, Mahrez was a star man in Claudio Ranieri’s fairytale champions, winning a host of individual honours along the way.

    He was influential in a campaign that will never be forgotten, scoring 17 EPL goals and contributing 10 assists.

  • Naby Keita RB Leipzig

    ​2017: #48 Naby Keita

    Keita played a pivotal role in RasenBallsport Leipzig sensationally finishing second in the Bundesliga, with the all-action midfielder racking up eight goals and seven assists.

    His form prompted Liverpool to pay a hefty premium on top of a €70 million buy-out clause just to sign him.

  • Sadio Mane Liverpool Goal 50

    ​2017: #32 Sadio Mane

    The lightning-quick winger scored 13 times in his first season at Anfield, including the winner in a Merseyside derby, to earn the Reds an overdue return to the Champions League and himself a second successive appearance in the Goal 50.

    He's fully justified the €41 million the Reds paid to sign him from Southampton.

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Borussia Dortmund, 17/18

    ​2017: #18 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    The Borussia Dortmund striker pulled off the impressive feat of outscoring Robert Lewandowski to finish top of the scoring charts in the Bundesliga, with 31 goals in just 32 games, before then bagging the winner in the DFB-Pokal final win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
  • Kalidou Koulibaly, Napoli, Serie A, 2017-2018

    2018: #44 Kalidou Koulibaly

    Napoli fans were underwhelmed by the lack of high-profile arrivals at the San Paolo during the summer of 2018, but they did take great comfort from the fact that the club managed to hold on to Kalidou Koulibaly.

    An unnamed Premier League club made a €100 million summer bid for the Senegal centre-half, who was a rock at the back for the Partenopei last season, as well as contributing five goals, including the memorable winner at Juventus in April.

    In 2018, he became the first ever African centre-back to make the Goal 50.

  • Sadio Mane Liverpool 2018-19

    2018: #18 Sadio Mane

    2018 was a memorable year for Mane, who first surpassed Demba Ba as the most prolific Senegalese player in Premier League history before then becoming the first player from his country to net in the Champions League final.

    The 26-year-old may not have got his hands on any silverware but he nonetheless established himself as one of the game's elite wingers by forming a deadly attacking triumvirate with Roberto Firmino and Salah.

    He also made his third appearance in the Goal 50, in his best position yet.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool celebration 2018-19

    2018: #3 Mohamed Salah

    After joining Liverpool from Roma in the summer of 2017, Mohamed Salah enjoyed an incredible debut season at Anfield, breaking the Premier League record for goals across a single campaign by netting 32 times.

    Despite seeing his hopes of Champions League glory dashed by an injury sustained after a controversial tangle with Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, the winger still ended the tournament with 10 goals to his name.

    Salah also struck twice at the World Cup in spite of his shoulder problem and off-field issues with the Egyptian Football Association, and his third-placed finish in the 2018 Goal 50 was his highest ever by an African player.