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Top Five: Ligue 1’s greatest African winners

6:49 AM SGT 23/4/19
Abedi Pele
As Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s Paris Saint-Germain finally get over the line in France, Ed Dove ranks Africa’s top five greatest former winners

  • Choupo-Moting


    Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s Paris Saint-Germain finally confirmed their Ligue 1 title triumph on Sunday, with LOSC Lille’s failure to beat Toulouse earlier in the day rending moot their later 3-1 victory over AS Monaco. PSG fans were made to wait for their title, with Thomas Tuchel’s side taking just one point from their previous three fixtures before this weekend.
    However, having now secured the title, Cameroon’s Choupo-Moting can add his name to Africa’s former winners, while Christopher Nkunku, Colin Dagba, Stanley N’Soki and Moussa Diaby will also get their hands on medals.
    In this feature, Goal’s Ed Dove ranks the top five greatest African players to win French football’s top prize.
  • Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid

    Mahamadou Diarra

    The great stat that underpins Diarra’s legacy—and his place on this list—his his relentless winning form domestically between 2002 and 2008.
    For a six-year run, the Mali captain won consecutive league titles with Olympique Lyonnais in France, and then in Spain, with Real Madrid, after moving to La Liga.
    A tough-tackling midfielder, he was a critical component of Los Blancos as they ended their four-year wait for a domestic title by pipping Barcelona on head-to-head record.
    After finishing third with Mali at the U-20 World Cup in 1999, Diarra was part of an Aigles squad that twice reached the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final.
  • Salif Keita of Mali

    Salif Keita

    Another Malian, Keita went one further than Diarra with the national side, guiding Les Aigles to the final in 1972 when they were defeated by Congo-Brazzaville.
    Two years earlier, he’d been named African Footballer of the Year, and enjoyed great success as a young striker in his homeland.
    After moving to France—and Saint-Etienne—he won a trio of Ligue 1 titles, and also picked up a Portuguese Cup with Sporting Lisbon.


  • Lyon's Ghanean midfielder Michael Essien (R), Sylvain Wiltord

    Michael Essien

    Essien won the first two of his four domestic championships in France, with Lyon, where he was a Ligue 1 champion in 2004 and 2005 as part of a magnificent OL side.
    He transferred that success to the Premier League, where he’d clinch the title in 2006 and 2010. There were plenty of other successes at Stamford Bridge—notably four FA Cups and the 2012 Champions League—but a litany of injuries steadily slowed the Bison’s progress.
    He’d go onto enjoy stints with AC Milan and Real Madrid, and last month, moved to Azeri side FK Sabail.


  • Abedi Pele

    Abedi Pele

    Perhaps Ghana’s greatest player, Pele was a superstar in France, with Olympique de Marseille, winning the Champions League in 1993, two years after he was a defeated finalist.
    Like Keita, he won three French titles, all with OM, although the last of this trio was won in controversial style.
    The forward—the father of current Black Stars Andre and Jordan Ayew—was an Afcon champion with Ghana in 1982, and was named African Footballer of the Year on three occasions.


  • George Weah PSG

    George Weah

    The current Liberia President was a French champion with Paris Saint-Germain, before going on to clinch two Serie As with AC Milan and an FA Cup with Chelsea.
    Unexpectedly, his Liberia side weren’t able to leverage his star power into silverware, although they did qualify for two Afcons.
    Weah was named African Footballer of the Year twice, and remains the only African player to win the Ballon d’Or.