African players have been the antecedent of soccer artistry before Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, who personify modern day paranormal football, were born.
I have compiled a list of great African players who took spectators’ breath away with their immense qualities on the green turf.
The list strictly catalogs players who were skillful, leaving out players who were prolific and scored goals for fun. Lots of players are able to score goals with ease but are not inherently skillful. A typical example is Luis Suarez.
Of course these skillful players were good goal poachers as well but the emphasis is on skills; the ability to dribble, give passes with precision, sway the body in a way that leaves opponent chasing shadows and all manner of ‘football sense.’
Having made this clear, I guess you can’t wait to see who qualified into my honorary faculty of opinion.
1. Augustine Azuka Okocha (Nigeria)
I am fortunate to have witnessed the magic this Enugu star, fondly called Jay-Jay, conjured on the pitch. He made football look like child’s play, seamlessly perforating the philosophy and game plan of opponent and elevating the art of football that was only interpreted in aesthetic language.
Simply put, he was the hybrid of Ronaldinho and Christiano Ronaldo; you know how lethal that sounds, don’t you?
Although he never won the African Player of the year Award, the former Bolton Wanderers and Fernerbache star, was a mastery of football with a distinctive repertoire.
Okocha is truly a legend and irreplaceable for Super Eagles.
2. Abedi Pele (Ghana)
Abedi Pele is considered by many as the best African player of all time. This is a label he earned because of his technical abilities and sublime character that made the world stood in awe.
He was a complete player who outrageously outpaced and outshined his opponent with cheeky ease. Many compared him to Maradona and Pele. As a matter of fact, he was nicknamed ‘Pele’ in recognition of his comparison with Edison Arantes do Nascimento (World Pele)
He was the first player to win the African Player of the year Award for three consecutive times. He has won lots of accolades both as an individual and with the national team, although he failed to lift the nation cup as a captain.
He has been recognized by FIFA as an influential figure after retirement and he has been often included in in FIFA’s All Star selection.
He was part of the few Africans who made a statement for African players abroad. He is married to Maha Ayew and together they have five children, three of whom are professional players.