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Arts & Culture

5 Of The Best African Soccer Players In The UEFA Champions League

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There are plenty of legendary stories of African soccer players who rose from humble beginnings to becoming household names in the soccer world of today. Dating back to 1984 where the history of African soccer began, Bruce Grobbelaar became the first (of many) African soccer players to go on to win the European Cup, known today as the UEFA Champions League.

An African Soccer Hero Is Born

With both sides battling each other for victory in the European Cup Final at Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Liverpool knew they had a lot of work to do—as did Grobbelaar. The game turned out to be a classic. Both teams wanted to be crowned the kings of European soccer. However, the home side, Roma had a significant home-ground advantage.

ALSO READ: Top 10 Highest Paid African Soccer Players in 2020

As the game went into extra-time, the scores were still tied at one goal a-piece. Liverpool and Roma’s pressure levels would be tested, as the game was to be decided on penalties. After two missed penalties from Roma, and Liverpool converting their fourth penalty, Liverpool was victorious 4-2. Naturally, Liverpool’s Zimbabwean goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar became the hero of the day. Not only did he secure Liverpool their fourth European Cup, but he was the very first African to win this prestigious tournament and open the doors to other legends who would follow in his footsteps. 

The Best UEFA Champions League Final For African Soccer

The UEFA Champions League 2019 Final has quickly become the best soccer final for the continent of Africa. Liverpool met Tottenham Hotspurs at the final in what turned out to be a grueling encounter. African soccer stars such as Mo Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), and Joel Matip (Cameroon) all played a vital role in Liverpool’s triumph. Star player, Mo Salah was at the heart of that epoch event.

Africas Soccer Stars

Photo credit: Liverpool.com

5 African Soccer Players To Watch This UEFA Champions League

You will find African players in virtually all top leagues across Europe. However, the most interesting thing about African players is that they bring energy and passion to the game. Notwithstanding that 2020 and 2021 are special years, we are going to beam the spotlight on 5 African soccer players to watch in this year’s UEFA Champions League. 

#5: Édouard Mendy, Chelsea, 28 (Senegal)

Best African soccer goalkeeper

Photo credit: MEAWW

The recently signed Chelsea goalkeeper has been the number one choice in the nets for the London club. The African soccer star has impressed the global soccer stage with his eccentric athleticism and his fast-twitched reflexes. He recorded 7 clean sheets in his first 7 appearances for the club. Chelsea’s Senegalese goal-stopper still has plenty of bright seasons ahead in his soccer career, and hopefully, his secure hands will be instrumental towards the team’s second Champions League tournament victory.

ALSO READ: 10 Young African Soccer Players That May Never Play For Africa

Notable Achievements

  • African Nations Cup Runners-Up – 2019
  • France Ligue 2 Winner – 2017/18

#4: Naby Keita, Liverpool, 26 (Guinea)

African soccer star Naby Keita

Photo credit: Zero Striker ZERO STRIKER

The fully fit box-to-box midfielder plays an important role in Liverpool’s team. While in his prime years, Keita has been highly rated by numerous soccer pundits and compared to soccer legends such as Deco, the former Portuguese playmaker. Upon signing for the English soccer giants, Liverpool, Keita was handed the number 8 jersey, previously worn by former Captain, Steven GerrardCurrently, Keita is recovering from a minor injury that has had him out for the past month. However, upon his return to the field, we’re sure going to see some outstanding performances from this African soccer superstar.

Notable Achievements

  • Premier League – 2019/20
  • FIFA Club World Cup – 2019
  • UEFA Champions League – 2018/19
  • Austrian Football Bundesliga – 2014/15, 2015/16
  • Austrian Cup – 2014/15, 2015/16

Individual Accolades

  • CAF Team of the Year – 2018
  • UEFA Europa League Squad of the Season – 2017/18
  • Bundesliga Team of the Season – 2016/17
  • Austrian Football Bundesliga Player of the Year – 2015/16
  • Footballer of the Year in Guinea – 2015

#3: Riyad Mahrez, Manchester City, 29 (Algeria)

Manchester City Celebration

Photo credit: Proofsport

The left-footed Algerian soccer player is one of the most decorated playmakers, setting the blueprint as one of Africa’s most exciting players to watch. Born in France, he qualified to represent Algeria through his parents who were both born in Algeria. Mahrez cemented his position as one of the African soccer greats through his contributions towards Leicester City’s English Premier League success in the 2015/16 season. 

ALSO READ: Top 10 Largest Stadiums In Africa

In a league that has been dominated by the traditional large soccer clubs, Mahrez played a world-class role for Leicester City’s league triumph; with one of the greatest underdog league victories to date. Consequently, Mahrez signed for Premier League’s big spenders, Manchester City in 2018 and has had further soccer success under legendary coach, Pep Guardiola. As one of Africa’s most decorated players, the only major club trophy Riyad Mahrez has not won is the UEFA Champions League to date.

Notable Achievements

  • EFL Cup – 2018/19, 2019/20
  • Africa Cup of Nations – 2019
  • FA Cup – 2018/19
  • Premier League – 2018/19
  • FA Community Shield – 2018
  • Premier League – 2015/16
  • Football League Championship – 2013/14

Individual Accolades

  • CAF Team of the Year – 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • CAF Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament – 2019
  • African Goal of the Year – 2019
  • CAF African Footballer of the Year – 2016
  • BBC African Footballer of the Year – 2016
  • Algerian Footballer of the Year – 2015, 2016
  • PFA Players’ Player of the Year – 2015/16
  • Leicester City Player of the Year – 2015/16
  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year – 2016
  • PFA Team of the Year – 2015/16 (Premier League)

#2: Sadio Mane, Liverpool, 28 (Senegal)

African Soccer legend

Photo credit: iNews

Sadio Mane ranks among Africa’s greatest wingers of all time. Mane’s success story has touched many soccer pundits, from humble beginnings in his home country, to becoming a hugely successful soccer player. Sadio Mane remains instrumental in every team. His electric speed, accurate shooting, and great positioning make him the ideal asset for any side he plays for. With plenty of interest from major clubs globally, the future for this African soccer star looks extremely bright.

ALSO READ: From A Hawker In Nigeria To Africa’s Most Expensive Player: The Story Of Victor Osimhen

Notable Achievements

  • Premier League – 2019/20
  • UEFA Super Cup – 2019
  • FIFA Club World Cup – 2019
  • Africa Cup of Nations Runners-Up – 2019
  • UEFA Champions League – 2018/19; Runners-Up 2017/18
  • Austrian Football Bundesliga – 2013/14
  • Austrian Cup – 2013/14

Individual Accolades

  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year – 2019/20
  • PFA Team of the Year – 2016/17, 2018/19, 2019/20
  • CAF Team of the Year – 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • UEFA Team of the Year – 2019
  • CAF Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament – 2019
  • African Footballer of the Year – 2019
  • Premier League Golden Boot – 2018/19
  • UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season – 2018/19
  • ESM Team of the Year – 2018/19
  • Premier League Player of the Month – August 2017, March 2019, November 2019
  • Liverpool Fans’ Player of the Season Award – 2016/17
  • Liverpool Players’ Player of the Season Award – 2016/17

#1: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, 28 (Egypt)

African soccer star Mo Salah

Photo credit: Goal.com

Known to his loyal fans in Merseyside as the “Egyptian King”, Mo Salah has become one of the most threatening attacking wingers in the history of the soccer world. The African soccer star has a decorated career, playing for some of the biggest European clubs. However, his consistency in scoring goals has made Salah a fan-favorite for the soccer world. Mo Salah’s goal-scoring records in major European leagues earn him the title as one of the best African soccer players of all time. Salah still has a large part of his career to break more of his records and lift more titles. We have no doubt that he will definitely impress in the UEFA Champions League as Liverpool shoots for another title.

Notable Achievements

  • Premier League – 2019/20
  • UEFA Super Cup – 2019
  • FIFA Club World Cup – 2019
  • UEFA Champions League – 2018/19; Runners-Up 2017/18
  • Africa Cup of Nations Runners-Up – 2017
  • Swiss Super League – 2012/13, 2013/14

Individual Accolades

  • Fans’ Footballer of the Year Award – 2020
  • CAF Team of the Year – 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball – 2019
  • GQ Middle East Man of the Year Award – 2019
  • Liverpool Goal of the Season – 2018/19 (vs Chelsea)
  • Premier League Golden Boot – 2017/18, 2018/19
  • Football Supporters’ Federation Player of the Year – 2018
  • FIFA Puskás Award – 2018

ALSO READ: Ansu Fati Broke A Soccer Record For Spain. Here’s What Happened

  • Top 100 Most Influential Africans by New African Magazine – 2018
  • UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award – 2018 
  • BBC African Footballer of the Year – 2017, 2018
  • African Footballer of the Year – 2017, 2018
  • PFA Players’ Player of the Year – 2017/18
  • FWA Footballer of the Year – 2017/18
  • Premier League Player of the Season – 2017/18
  • PFA Team of the Year – 2017/18 (Premier League)
  • Liverpool Fans’ Player of the Season Award – 2017/18
  • Liverpool Players’ Player of the Season Award – 2017/18
  • PFA Fans’ Player of the Year – 2017/18
  • UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season – 2017/18
  • UEFA Champions League Forward of the Season – 2017/18
  • CAF Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament – 2017
  • A.S. Roma Player of the Season – 2015/16
  • Swiss Super League Player of the Year – 2013
  • CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year – 2012

The Bright Future Of African Soccer Players

The battle for championship status continues in the UEFA Champions League next week. Plenty of African soccer players are set to impress and help their team to victory. With German giants Bayern Munich winning the tournament last season, will we see a new UEFA Champions League winner crowned by the end of this year’s soccer season? Also, which team do you think is hungrier for the title this season? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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