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Sports News Tue, 7 Apr 2020

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Picking a dream team of Africans who played in England

Bruce Grobbelaar

Legendary Liverpool and Zimbabwe goalkeeper who is one of the greatest stoppers ever produced by Africa. He was part of one of the Reds’ finest sides, and ended his career with six English titles—all won before the Premier League era.

His career highlight was his performance in Liverpool’s penalty-shootout final victory over AS Roma in 1984, one of the most influential contributions by an African player in European football’s showpiece.

Lauren

One of Arsenal’s legendary Invincibles team, Lauren was a member of the exceptional Cameroon side of the turn of the century, winning two African titles and an Olympic gold.

In 2000, he outshone Eto’o, Patrick Mboma et al to win the Player of the Tournament award, and was a Premier League champion with the Gunners twice.

He also won the FA Cup with Portsmouth in 2008, and perhaps never got the credit he deserved for his contribution to English football.

Kolo Toure

An outstanding physical specimen, who was, alongside Lauren, a member of Arsenal’s Invincibles and would later go on to enjoy success with Manchester City before joining Liverpool.

He was a member of the Ivory Coast’s Golden Generation, and was one of the more experienced heads in the Nations Cup-winning team of 2015.

The centre-back, one of the finest in the top flight during his prime, arguably never gets the credit he deserves as one of the few players to have won the title with two different clubs.

Yaya Toure

He won the Champions League title with Barcelona before moving to England, and went on to win the African Footballer of the Year award twice.

Toure was also an African champion with the Ivory Coast in 2015, and ought to be considered one of the key figures in the building of the modern Manchester City.

One of only two central midfielders—along with Frank Lampard—to score 20 goals or more in a Premier League season, but slips into our Premier League dream team in a more defensive capacity.

Sadio Mane

The reigning Premier League Golden Boot winner—an award he shares with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang—has been one of the key protagonists in Liverpool’s rise in recent years.

After initially proving himself in the Premier League with Southampton, he made a comfortable transition to the more demanding atmosphere of Anfield, even if his first two campaigns at the club were affected slightly by injury and suspension.

Last term, Mane was influential as Liverpool conquered Europe—memorably eviscerating Bayern Munich in Bavaria—and has arguably been the Reds’ outstanding player this season as they’ve gone to the brink of ending their three-decade wait for the title.

Jay-Jay Okocha

One of the purest talents ever produced by Africa, but Okocha never truly won the silverware at club level to match his breath-taking skill.

He’s a legend at Bolton Wanderers, where he’s remembered as one of their finest players, and did win an Olympic gold and the African title with Nigeria.

Michael Essien

Injuries may have cost Essien his peak years, but he makes the cut for our African Premier League Dream Team ahead of the likes of John Obi Mikel, Geremi, Alex Song or Sulley Muntari.

He’s a one-time African Footballer of the Year, a former English champion, and was part of the Chelsea team that won the Champions League in 2012.

The Bison could have achieved so much more, but he still left his mark in the English game.

Mohamed Salah

One of the key figures in Liverpool’s transformation over recent years, arguably, by now, Salah ought to have won two Champions Leagues and the Premier League title at Anfield.

In 2018, he picked up an injury in the final against Real Madrid, and this term, coronavirus has denied him the league winner’s medal that surely would have been his by now.

Nonetheless, Salah’s record-breaking first season on Merseyside was arguably the finest by any African player in English football, and last season, he retained the Golden Boot he won in 2018.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The Gabon hitman arrived in the Premier League midway through the 2017-18 season, having scored 98 goals across four and a half Bundesliga seasons, winning their Golden Boot once.

He’s maintained his sensational goalscoring form in Engalnd, netting a half century of goals in just over two full seasons, including a 22-goal return last term.

Heading towards the final year of his contract at Arsenal, his time at the Emirates Stadium may be drawing to a close, and it’s hard to see how Mikel Arteta could replace this magnificently consistent hitman.

Didier Drogba

Arguably no African player has had a greater impact in the English game than Drogba, who won a swathe of domestic honours with the Blues and was voted their greatest player in 2012.

His finest hour came in that same year, when he almost single-handedly won the Champions League for the Pensioners.

He’s also a two-time African Footballer of the Year.

Nwankwo Kanu

An unpredictable superstar who twice won the African Footballer of the Year award and twice clinched the BBC prize.

He won two Premier Leagues with Arsenal, and the FA Cup with Portsmouth, having earlier won the Champions League with Ajax.

The Nigeria great was also influential as West Bromwich Albion beat the drop in 2005.

Source: goal.com

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