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The Greatest Playmakers in the History of African Football: A Top 9 List

The Greatest Playmakers in the History of African Football: A Top 9 List

The playmaker role is undeniably one of the most captivating positions in world football. With their exuberance, imagination, and creative play, they tend to captivate spectators and fellow players. Each person has their favourite playmaker, whether from their favourite team or an idol they admired and sought to emulate on the playground.

Due to the many talents that emerge from African football, ranking the best playmakers can sometimes be challenging. Notwithstanding, here are eight remarkable playmakers from Africa:

8. Mustapha Hadji – Morocco

Coventry City fans fondly remember Mustapha Hadji, who played for the Sky Blues between 1999 and 2001 under the management of Gordon Strachan. This accomplished attacking midfielder from Morocco had limited success with the national team but left a lasting impression at the 1998 World Cup, where his brilliant individual performance against Norway earned him the African Footballer of the Year award.

7. Serge Alain Maguy – Ivory Coast

Serge Maguy’s talent was indeed out of this world, making him one of the best playmakers of his generation. He shone as an African champion with the Ivory Coast’s Elephants in 1992 and created history by signing with Atlético Madrid from Africa Sport d’Abidjan in 1993. Maguy’s golden left foot and visionary passes broke through defensive lines like never before.

6. Seydou Keita – Mali

While Seydou Keita didn’t cement a regular starting position at Barcelona, his contributions to the team did not go unnoticed. A versatile midfielder capable of fulfilling various roles in the centre of the park, Keita played over 100 matches for Barcelona during their immensely successful period under Pep Guardiola, where they secured 14 titles.

5. Theophile Abega – Cameroon

Nicknamed the “doctor” for his technical and tactical intelligence, Theophile Abega was a trailblazing Cameroonian midfielder who led his country to their first-ever AFCON (African Cup of Nations) success in 1984. Abega scored the winning goal in the final against Nigeria and was named the player of the tournament. He also achieved two African Champions League titles with Canon Yaounde in 1978 and 1988.

4. Lakhdar Belloumi – Algeria

Widely regarded as the greatest Algerian footballer of all time, Lakhdar Belloumi’s performances in the 1982 and 1986 World Cups left an indelible mark. Belloumi, the mastermind on the pitch for the Fennecs, never won an AFCON title but holds a special place in the hearts of Algerian fans. The 1981 African Ballon d’Or winner, Belloumi, amassed 100 caps for the national team, scoring 28 goals and providing countless assists.

3. Mohamed Aboutrika – Egypt

Mohamed Aboutrika played a pivotal role as an attacking midfielder behind the striker for Al Ahly during their incredibly successful era in the 2000s. He represented Egypt in 100 matches, winning the AFCON in 2006 and 2008 and earning the African Footballer of the Year award in 2008. Aboutrika also showcased his skills at the 2012 Olympics, contributing with two goals and two assists as Egypt reached the quarter-finals

2. Austin ”Jay-Jay” Okocha – Nigeria

Few players in Premier League history can match Jay-Jay Okocha’s technical flair. The Nigerian maestro, who settled at Bolton Wanderers after stints at Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce, and PSG, mesmerized audiences with his ball skills, rivalling the likes of Ronaldinho with his dazzling tricks and flicks. Okocha may have enjoyed little club success in terms of silverware.

Still, he received numerous individual accolades during his career, including seven Nigerian Footballer of the Year awards and two African Footballer of the Year awards.

1. Abedi Pele – Ghana

While George Weah, Didier Drogba, and Samuel Eto’o each have their claims, Abedi Pele is a strong contender for the title of the greatest African footballer ever. As the playmaker for Marseille’s extraordinary attacking lineup, which included Rudi Voller, Alen Boksic, Chris Waddle, Jean-Pierre Papin, and Eric Cantona, Pele left an unforgettable mark in African football.

He was named Man of the Match in the 1993 UEFA Champions League final, having been a finalist in 1991. Pele won the African Cup of Nations in 1982 and captained Ghana until his international retirement in 1998. Additionally, he was honoured as the African Footballer of the Year for three consecutive years in the early 1990s.

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