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Top 5 African players in the history of Ballon D’or award

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Here is the list of the top 5 African players who have received the best rankings ever in the history of France Football award Ballon D’or

Africans are widely known to be a bigger fan of the game (football/soccer) than many other continent.

today, Football is  not just the most popular sport in Africa; it is an emotion. To some, it is their livelihood. To many, it is an inspiration. To most others, it is what gives them hope in the grimiest of days.

This vibrant continent has reproduced so many talents whom today serve as inspirations to many other African footballers and youths.

From the likes of Roger Milla, Abedi Pele, Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwanko Kanu, Samuel Eto’o Fils, Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure just to name a few, the most prized individual accolade in European football, the Ballon d’Or, has eluded all of them, bar one.

MUST READ: Comparing Eto’o vs Drogba Champions League Stats

Here is the list of the top 5 African players to have won or to have come close to winning the Ballon d’Or as well as their position after the official award

#5 Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Leicester)

Year: 2016

Best Position by an African player: 7th

Riyad Mahrez’s master class performance at Leicester which helped them clinch their first Premier League title ever never went unnoticed.

Riyad Mahrez scored 17 goals and was named African Footballer of the Year, BBC African Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year but missed out on the Ballon d’Or which went to Cristiano Ronaldo, the Algerian finishing seventh in the rankings.

#4 Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Liverpool)

Year: 2018

Best Position by an African player: 6th

Since Mohamed Salah’s arrival at Liverpool, he has been on a never ending great to excellent run of form.

Salah helped Liverpool reach the Champions league finals which the lost to Real Madrid in the 2017/2018 season with an astonishing 44 goals scored in all competitions.

He won the African Players of the Year Award, PFA Players’ Player of the Year and BBC African Footballer of the Year but fell short on the Ballon d’Or stage where he finished sixth.

Since then, Salah has not backed down as his chase for the Ballon d’or continues as he is mostly always nominated for the award.

MUST READ: Didier Drogba about Lionel Messi in 2012

#3 Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon/Barcelona) 

Year: 2009

Best Position by an African player: 5th

Samuel Eto’o came to life in 2005 where he came third in the FIFA World Player of the year awards but failed to make an impressive ranking in the race for the Ballon d’Or as he finished 10th.

It was until 2009 that Samuel Eto’o had an impressive ranking in the race for the France football award – Ballon d’Or when he finished 5th as Cristiano Ronaldo won it.

Samuel Eto’o was first nominated for the Ballon D’or in 2004. Since then, he would make the standings every season for the next eight campaigns.

He is the most decorated African player of all time. He has won the African Player of the Year award a record four times (2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010).


#2 Sadio Mane (Senegal/Liverpool) 

Year: 2019

Best Position by an African player: 4th

Many still don’t believe how Mane did not make it in the Top 3 contenders list that year.

Many believe he deserved more at the 2019 Ballon d’Or gala. The Senegalese winger was by far the best EPL player in 2018/19 when his 26 goals in all competitions led Liverpool to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup glory as well as runners-up finishes in the EPL, Africa Cup of Nations and African player of the year.

However, Mane did not even make it to the podium as he was fourth.

MUST READ: Why Jurgen Klopp deserves FIFA Best Men coach award

NB: Sadio Mane and Didier Drogba are tied in 2nd after they both came 4th in this ranking.

#2 Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast/Chelsea) 

Year: 2007

Best Position by an African player: 4th

Didier Drogba has won the African Footballer of the Year award on two occasions (2006 and 2009) and led the Ivory Coast to their first Fifa World Cup in 2006.

2006 was a great year for the Ivorian striker. He had just won back-to-back Premier League titles with Chelsea, and played a pivotal role in the process

Interestingly, Didier Drogba failed to win the African player of the year award in 2007 which even gave more reasons for him failing to make it to the Ballon d’or podium in 2007.

#1 George Weah (Liberia/AC Milan) 

Year: 1995

Best Position by an African player: 1st

To date, the only African player to have ever won the Ballon d’Or is George who clinched the award in 1995. It was the same first year that the prize was opened to non-European players.

In that year, he defeated Jurgen Klinsmann in second place by 144 votes to 108.

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1 comment

Kriss September 30, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Weah isn’t the only Africa Player to have ein the Ballon D’Or!
Ezski Badou fromm Morocco ein ist in 1986!


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