Who is the most decorated African footballer? That’s a big question. The discussion of the most decorated African footballers of all time is subjective rather than conclusive.
This discussion goes beyond the opinions of Africans alone and extends to the opinions of football lovers all over the world.
Some may hold the opinion that great African players should be assessed based on their career trophies and individual awards.
Others will argue that African players should be assessed based on their contributions to the growth of African football on and off the pitch and their contribution to the exposure of African football to other parts of the world for them to be classified as “great”.
This article will mainly focus on 20 most decorated African footballers by virtue of team trophies and individual awards. We’ll focus more on players who have played or still play in Europe.
1. George Weah | Liberia
It is said that the best is all always left for last. George Oppong Weah is a retired Liberian professional footballer and currently the elected President of Liberia.
During his 18-year career, Weah was unmatched and unstoppable on the field of play. Weah made 488 senior appearances for both club and country, scoring 212 goals.
The Liberian football legend made his name in Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan where he won 1 Ligue 1 title, 2 Coupe de France titles, 1 Coupe de la Ligue title and 3 Serie A Titles, respectively.
Furthermore, Weah won 28 individual titles which includes 3 times African Footballer of the Year Award, BBC African Footballer of the Year, IFFHS African Player of the Century, FIFA 100, Golden Foot Legends Award, IFFHS Legends, World Hall of Fame of Soccer, IFFHS All-time Africa Men’s Dream Team and most notably, the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year, both in 1995.
George Weah remains the only African Footballer to have won the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year Award, making it an unprecedented achievement.
For George Weah, it is not the amount of trophies or individual awards won, but the weight and prestige of the awards. His achievement also goes beyond the on field skills and goals.
To put it straight, George Weah is the most decorated African footballer of all time, given his unprecedented and unmatched achievements.
2. Samuel Eto’o | Cameroon
There may be different opinions from pundits and analyst on the most decorated African footballer, but none can be far away from mentioning Samuel Eto’o in the top 3 of the greatest African players.
Pundits across Europe have been tempted to place him in the category of the greatest strikers in Europe when he was in his prime and they may not have been wrong to do so.
Samuel Eto’o, like Didier Drogba can boast of a long and prosperous career of 19 years, from 1997 to 2016. In that time, Eto’o made 705 appearances for both club and country, scoring 350 goals.
Eto’o won the Olympic Gold Medal in Sydney, 2000 and won the African Cup of Nations on two occasions between 2000 and 2002.
At club level, Eto’o won 3 Spanish La Liga titles, 1 Serie A title 1, 1 Copa del Rey, 1 Supercopa de Espana 2 Coppa Italia, 1 Supercopa Italiana, 3 UEFA Champions League titles and 1 FIFA Club World Cup title.
Eto’o won 32 individual awards which included 4 African Player of the Year award, a record he shares with Yaya Toure, FIFA World Players of the Year – Bronze, Golden Foot, Globe Soccer Player Career Award 2016, IFFHS All-time Men’s Dream Team 2021 to mention but a few.
Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s most decorated player of all time and the highest goal scorer in AFCON history.
Eto’o can confidently look back on his career and be satisfied with his career achievements with an envious set of accolades.
3. Didier Drogba | Ivory Coast
The presence of Didier Drogba in attack surely kept every opposition defender on their toes.
Though retired, the name “Drogba” still pulls massive respect in the footballing world, especially in Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray, and in Ivory Coast where he made he made a name for himself and won most of his accolades.
Drogba’s longevity was perhaps the most thrilling attribute of his career, playing from 1998 to 2018, making 602 appearances for club and country and scoring 275 goals.
Drogba won the English Premier League 4 times, the FA Cup, 4 times the EFL Cup 3 times, the one each of Super Lig, Turkish Cup and Turkish Super Cup.
The Ivorian football legend scored the winning penalty in the UEFA Champions League in 2012 against Bayern Munich to clinch Chelsea’s first ever European Cup.
Furthermore, Didier Drogba has won an incredible 49 individual awards from 2006 to 2021, which includes the African Footballer of the Year in 2006 and 2009, BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2009, FIFPro World XI in 2007, Golden Foot in 2013 and recently Premier League Hall of Fame in 2022, to mention but a few.
Unfortunately for Drogba, he failed to win the African Cup of Nations, falling short on two occasions in 2006 and 2012.
Perhaps that would be Drogba’s only regret, but it will definitively not overshadow an illustrious career of 20 years.
Therefore, based on his achievements, Drogba is the 3rd most decorated African footballer of all time.
4. Mohammed Salah | Egypt
“Mo Salah” as he is popularly called, is the current captain of the Egyptian National team. Salah is known for his blistering pace on the ball, his strength and his goal scoring prowess.
Currently at Liverpool, Salah continuously stakes his claim as one of the best wingers in the world by scoring 117 goals in just 179 appearances.
Salah has gone on to win 6 major titles with Liverpool in 5 years, including the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
Salah hasn’t enjoyed much success with the Egyptian Nation team, being on the losing side on two occasions in the African Cup of Nations in 2017 and 2021.
However, he is regarded as a National hero after he scored both goals in a 2-1 win against Congo in a World Cup qualifier in 2018, the second being a penalty to send Egypt to their first World Cup finals since 1990.
Salah ranks second on the list of Egypt’s top goal scorers with 47 goals.
Salah has won an astonishing 50 individual awards from 2012 till date, including the African Footballer of the Year on two occasions.
The only thing missing from his CV is perhaps his most desired trophy, which is the African Cup of Nations, which will undoubtedly make him Egypts most decorated player.
Nonetheless, his club achievements are enough to earn him 6th place amongst the most decorated African footballers.
5. Abedi Ayew | Ghana
Nicknamed “Abedi Pele” because of his similarities to the great Pele in his style of play, Abedi Ayew is regarded as one of the most decorated African footballers of all time.
Though he never managed to make an appearance at the World Cup, Pele made up for it with a blistering career for both club and country in other major competitions. He won the French Division 1 title with Marseille in 1991 & 1992 and the UEFA Champions League in 1991.
In addition, Ayew won the African Cup of Nations in 1982 and won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and the award for the BBC African Footballer of the Year in 1991. He finished 9th in the voting for FIFA World Player of the Year in 1992.
Abedi Pele Ayew is the most decorated Ghanaian Footballer of all time.
Given his incredible achievements, we rank Abedi Ayew as the 5th most decorated African footballer.
6. Yaya Toure | Ivory Coast
Yaya Toure, the younger of the Yaya brothers, is an Ivorian football and Manchester City legend.
The world got a glimpse of Yaya Toure at Barcelona, but he was not able to reach his potential because of limited playing time.
Although he won the La Liga twice, the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona, Toure never really felt he contributed much to their success.
Toure’s fortune, however, changed when he moved to England and joined a rebuilding Manchester City side under new ownership.
Yaya Toure went on to make 230 appearance for City scoring 59 goals while also winning 3 Premier League titles and one FA Cup title.
At the National level, Yaya Toure brought joy to the people of Ivory Coast when he led the country to success in the African Cup on Nations in 2015 after falling short in 2006 and 2012.
Toure won the African Footballer of the Year award in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Yaya is the most decorated Ivorian Footballer of all time and no doubt one of the most decorated African footballers of all time.
7. Nwankwo Kanu | Nigeria
Kanu is regarded as one of the most talented players of his generation and he certainly lived up to expectations.
The former Arsenal man made 408 club appearances across 6 clubs scoring 98 goals in total, only two shy of a century. He played for the Nigerian under 17 and under 23 teams and the Nigeria senior National team where he won 86 caps scoring 12 goals.
Kanu landed on the world stage in the Olympics in Atlanta, 1996, where he scored two goals, the second being the all-important “golden goal” in the semi-final against a star-studded Brazilian side to send Nigeria to the final.
Nigeria went on to beat Argentina in the final to be the crowned champions.
Kanu won 13 major club titles including three Eredivisie titles, one UEFA Champions League, Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup with Ajax, one UEFA Cup with Inter Milan, 2 Premier League titles and 2 FA Cups with Arsenal.
The Nigerian star also won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1996 and 1999 and BBC African Footballer of the Year in 1997 and 1999.
Kanu is currently the most decorated Nigerian footballer of all time. However, in Africa, Kanu is the 7th most decorated by our computation.
8. Sadio Mane | Senegal
“The boy from Bambali”, a small town in Senegal, began his football career at the age of 19 at Metz. He soon moved to Austria, where he played for Salzburg and won a domestic double that season.
His performance that season gained him a move to English side Southampton where he made 67 appearances and scored 21 goals.
In the summer of 2016, Mane signed for Liverpool and then the world began to take proper notice of his talent.
Sadio Mane has since scored 89 goals for Liverpool and 110 Premier League goals, making him a Premier League cult hero.
Mane has won 6 major titles with Liverpool including the UEFA Champions League, Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, the Premier League, English League Cup and the FA Cup.
In addition, Mane scored the final penalty in an intense penalty shoot-out against Egypt to win the African Cup of Nations for Senegal, the first in their history and was named the Player of the tournament.
Furthermore, Mane was named the African Footballer of the Year in 2019 and finished 4th in the 2019 Ballon d’Or and was ranked fifth in the award for Best FIFA Men’s Player in 2019 and fourth in 2020.
Other individual awards include Premier League Golden Boot, PFA Fans’ Player of the Year 2020, CAF Team of the Year, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 IFFHS CAF Player of the Year 2020.
In total, Sadio Mane has amassed up to 26 individual award from 2015 till date, making the most decorated Senegalese footballer of all time.
9. Roger Milla | Cameroon
Regarded as one of the first African Footballers to put Africa in the limelight on the international stage, Roger Milla will always be remembered for his goal against Argentina in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, where Cameroon carried the “African flag” high.
Mila won 77 caps for the Cameroonian National team scoring 43 goals and winning the African Cup of Nations in 1984 and 1988.
Furthermore, Milla won the African Footballer of the Year award in 1976 and 1990. He was also awarded the FIFA World Cup Bronze in 1990 and was also featured in the FIFA World Cup All-Star team in 1990.
Mila was awarded the Golden Foot Legends Award in 2014 and is currently inducted into the 100 Greatest Footballers of All Time.
There is no doubt that Roger Milla is one of the most decorated African footballers of all time.
10. Austin Okocha | Nigeria
Arguably the most technically gifted footballer of his generation, “Jay-Jay” as he is fondly called, transcended beyond African Football and his impact was felt all over the world of football during his time.
The two-time BBC African Footballer of the Year was instrumental in Nigeria’s success in the 1994 African Cup of Nations title and the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, where Nigeria won the Gold medal.
At club level, football fans spoke widely of him and love to watch him because of his dazzling skills and goal contributions.
It is the popular saying even to this day that “Jay-Jay was so good, they named him twice.”
Watch how good Jay-Jay was during his time.
On our books, Okocha is the 10th most decorated African footballer of all time.
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11. Riyad Mahrez | Algeria
Born in Sarcelles, France, Mahrez decided to pledge his allegiance to the Algerian National team in 2014.
Since then, Mahrez has gained legendary status in the eyes of Algerians, winning 75 caps for his Nation and scoring 26 goals.
In 2016, he was voted African Footballer of the Year after a fairy-tale season with Leicester City who stunned the world and won the English Premier League that year with Mahrez winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award.
His proudest moment yet, came in 2019 where he inspired his Nation through his leadership and goal contributions to their first African Cup of Nations success since 1990.
Mahrez has won 6 major title with Manchester City including 3 Premier League titles.
12. Samuel Kuffor | Ghana
Best known for his physical prowess and doggedness in defence, “Sammy Kuffor” as he is fondly called, is a retired Ghanaian professional footballer.
Kuffor is best remembered for his time with German Bundesliga giants, Bayern Munich where he won 14 titles over a decade, making 175 appearances scoring 7 goals.
The former Ghanaian Center back made 54 appearances for the Ghanaian National team winning bronze in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
13. Ahmed Hassan | Egypt
Regarded as one of the finest attacking wingers on his generation, a general consensus of past and present African players will agree that Ahmed Hassan is one of the most decorated African footballer of all time.
Hassan made 376 club appearances both in Egypt and in Europe and scored 123 goals. He won 184 caps for the Egyptian National team, scoring 33 goals and winning 4 African Cup of Nations titles.
Furthermore, Hassan is currently the third most capped male professional footballer in history.
14. Segun Odegbami | Nigeria
Nicknamed “Mathematical” for his close control of the ball, speed and precision in front of goal, Odegbami scored an impressive 23 goals in 46 appearance for the Nigerian National team from 1976 to 1981.
Odegbami was a major force in Nigeria’s first ever African Nations Cup title win in 1980 in Nigeria.
Segun Odegbami never won the African Footballer of the Year award, although many Nigerians would argue that he should have done so.
But he was shortlisted for the award and made the top three on two separate occasions.
15. El Hadji Diouf | Senegal
Many will argue that Diouf did not really live up to the expectations of football fans especially in Africa.
However, one cannot deny his contribution to the exposure of African football through his exceptional performance at the FIFA World Cup in 2002.
Diouf was voted African Footballer of the Year in 2001 and 2002, BBC African Footballer of the Year, 2002 and was inducted into the FIFA World Cup All-star team for 2002.
16. Kalusha Bwalya | Zambia
“The Great Kalu” is a Zambia former international professional footballer. He made 87 appearances and scored 39 times for the Chipolopolo of Zambia.
Kalusha is the third of the list of Zambia’s all time goal scorers and 8th in all time appearances.
Bwalya was named African Footballer of the Year in 1988 by France Football and was voted the 12th – best player in the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1996.
Kalusha took the Zambian National team to second-place in the African Nations Cup in Tunisia 1994 after reviving the National team from a tragic event that shook African Football the previous year.
The National team subsequently finished third in South Africa 1996, with him being the captain on both occasions.
Given his achievements, Bwalya is the 16th most decorated African footballer.
17. Salif Keita | Mali
Known for his time in AS Saint-Etienne, the Malian International was instrumental in the French side’s 2 years domination of the French league, winning 3 consecutive Ligue 1 titles from 1967 to 1970.
In the 1970-71 season, Keita scored an impressive 42 goals although it was enough to win Les Verts any silverware that season.
Keita was voted African Footballer of the Year in 1970 and was inducted into the FIFA Order of Merit in 1996.
18. Daniel Amokachi | Nigeria
Daniel “The Bull” Amokachi as he is fondly called, for his energy, physic and pace in attack was recognized by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) as the 18th – best African player of the last century, hence it is only fitting to place him at number 18.
Amokachi made 201 senior career appearances for club and 44 appearances for the Nigerian National team, scoring 64 and 13 goals, respectively.
Amokachi won 4 club titles with Everton and Besiktas and 2 titles with the Nigerian National team, being the African Cup of Nations and Olympic Gold, which is most revered in Nigeria today.
The Nigerian also won 9 individual awards and came third in ranking of the African Footballer of the Year in 1994, 1995 and 1996.
19. Essam El Hadary | Egypt
Popularly called “High Dam” for his industrious saves and command of his 18 yard area, El Hadary is regarded as one of the most decorated Egyptian footballers of all time.
El Hadary was a former captain of the Egyptian National team and spent most of his career playing with various Egyptian club sides.
Al Ahly, being the club side where he made his name, he won 26 titles, including 4 CAF Champions League titles.
Spanning a career total of 663 appearances, (159 for the Egyptian National team and 504 for his clubs) and 4 winner’s medal in the African Cup of Nations, El Hadary will go down as not just one of the greatest Egyptians goalkeepers, but as one of the greatest and most decorated African footballers of all time.
20. Rigobert Song | Cameroon
“Song”, the name that sent shivers through the spine of opposition attackers, was the epitome of an indomitable lion as the Cameroonian National team is called.
Best known for his defensive resilience and physicality, Song is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in African football history and perhaps the most feared.
Song played in a record eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, being on the winning side twice, in 2000 and 2002.
Furthermore, Song also won 5 club titles with Metz, Liverpool, Galatasaray and Trabzonspor.
Fittingly, Rigobert Song is our 20th most decorated African footballer of all time.
As pointed out at the beginning if this article, this discussion remains a subjective one that varies from opinion to opinion. However, facts, statistics and data speak for itself.
Going by these facts, statistic and data, and recorded achievements, it is clear that George Weah is the most decorated African footballer of all time.
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