Roger Milla & African stars who dazzled at the World Cup

Roger MillaGetty
  • World Cup Roger MillaGetty

    Roger Milla at 70

    The three-time African Footballer of the Year, who turned 70 on Friday, starred at two World Cup finals, with his greatest impact coming in 1990, where four goals helped Cameroon progress to the quarter-final.

    This was the best showing by an African nation until Senegal and Ghana matched the feat in 2002 and 2010 respectively.

    At 42, in 1994, Milla became the oldest player to ever feature at the showpiece, although two players have since supplanted the icon – Colombia’s then 43-year-old Faryd Mondragon in 2014 and Egypt’s Essam El Hadary who played in Russia 2018 at 45.

    Another goal at the finals in ’94 saw him break his own record, set four years earlier, of being the oldest scorer at the showpiece.

    His tally of five World Cup strikes was Africa’s highest return for two decades until Asamoah Gyan matched and overtook the legendary Cameroonian in 2014.

  • Asamoah Gyan Germany Ghana World Cup 2014 Group G 06212014AFP

    Asamoah Gyan

    Unlike Milla, Ghana’s top marksman thrived at three finals – 2006, 2010 and 2014 – and was instrumental in the Black Stars’ progress to the last eight in South Africa.

    He netted the Black Stars’ first World Cup goal only 68 seconds into their 2-0 win over Czech Republic, which was the fastest strike at the competition.

    While his last-gasp extra-time miss against Uruguay in 2010 saw him miss out on even more history by making his nation the outright best performing African side at the finals, he did break a 20-year record in Brazil four years later.

    Gyan netted twice in 2014 – against eventual winners Germany and Portugal – to overtake Milla’s five-goal haul, a truly commendable return for the West African.

  • Diouf Senegal 2002Getty Images

    El Hadji Diouf

    Despite not scoring for Senegal at the 2002 finals, Diouf was largely seen as the Teranga Lions’ best player in their hugely impressive debut.

    The West African nation stunned the competition by recording a shock 1-0 win over defending champions France who endured a forgettable defence of their crown to finish bottom of Group A.

    Bruno Metsu’s troops ended second behind Denmark and were to equal the great Cameroon side by making it to the quarters.

    Diouf was honoured with a place on the All-star team alongside greats like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Miroslav Klose.

  • Moussa Wague Senegal

    Moussa Wague

    Having included the oldest player to score at the finals, we've also included Africa’s youngest ever World Cup scorer.

    While Wague may not have had the influence of other players in this list, the right-back’s goal against Japan in 2018 saw him become the continent’s youngest to find the back of the net.

    At 19 years and 263 days old, the Barcelona defender supplanted Ghana’s Draman Haminu, who scored against the United States in 2006 at 20 years and 82 days old.

    Despite Aliou Cisse’s side's failure to progress beyond the group stage, Wague’s moment saw his name written in the competition’s history books.

  • Okocha Denmark Nigeria 1998

    Jay-Jay Okocha

    Nigeria’s most-talented player of all-time featured at three World Cups in 1994, 1998 and 2002, but his best individual showing came in France.

    Okocha’s sterling displays largely made up for the Super Eagles’ underwhelming overall performance which ended in a 4-1 Round of 16 defeat by Denmark.

    Be that as it may, Jay-Jay thrilled fans with his trickery and creativity, and was deservedly named in the All-Star Team of the Tournament, albeit among one of the six reserves that included Juan Sebastien Veron, Michael Owen and Thierry Henry.