It’s FORBES AFRICA’s 11th birthday, and we have rounded up a team of 11 stellar African footballers who we believe have been the best from the African continent since 2011.
By Nick Said
Édouard Mendy (Senegal)
The 30-year-old gloveman was a late starter and playing Ligue 2 football in France just four years ago before a meteoric rise that has seen him become arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. He has been instrumental in Senegal’s recent success.
Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Hakimi is only 23 but has already played for Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and current club Paris St Germain, where he is a teammate of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Not many other footballers can say that. A set-piece specialist, he brings goals from the full-back position.
Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
Koulibaly has recently made the switch from Napoli to Chelsea after eight years in Naples, where he was considered among the best defenders in Italy’s Serie A. The 31-year-old has been crucial in back-to-back World Cup qualifications for Senegal, as well as their recent Africa Cup of Nations triumph.
Medhi Benatia (Morocco)
Benatia has retired but spent a decade in the Morocco national team and played for such great clubs as Roma, Juventus and Bayern Munich, though he is perhaps best known for his stay with Udinese. He won three league titles in Italy and two in Germany.
Kwadwo Asamoah (Ghana)
Although he can play in midfield or defence, he spent much of his career at left-back, which included over 100 appearances for Juventus and a successful spell with Inter Milan. He played more than 350 times in Serie A and won the championship on six occasions to make him one of the most decorated Ghanaian players of all time.
Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast)
Toure was not just one of the best in Africa during his playing days, but also a global great during his time with Barcelona and Manchester City. Tall and imposing, he also had great skill and vision and could dominate games all on his own. He was part of the Ivorian Golden Generation and helped them to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2015. He is a four-time African Footballer of the Year winner, a joint record number with Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o.
Thomas Partey (Ghana)
Partey has been a star for Ghana since 2016 having come through the ranks at Spanish LaLiga side Atletico Madrid, who he helped win the UEFA Europa League in 2018 having lost out in the final of the Champions League two years before. He is now with Arsenal and will be a huge player for Ghana at the World Cup in Qatar.
Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
Mahrez usually occupies the right midfield position, but we have moved him to the left in our team. He shot to prominence at Leicester City, who he helped to win the Premier League in 2015/16 – still one of the greatest sporting stories of all time. He has since joined Manchester City and added three more league title wins, while he guided Algeria to Africa Cup of Nations success in 2019.
Mo Salah (Egypt)
Salah was viewed as something of a failure in his early career at Chelsea, but a loan move to Roma in Italy helped ignite his career, which went into over-drive when he joined Liverpool in 2017. He has been among the best forwards in the world since and helped the Anfield club to their first league title in 30 years, as well as the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. Missing from his trophy cabinet is the Africa Cup of Nations after he was runner-up with Egypt in 2017 AND 2021. He has twice won African Footballer of the Year.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba were coming to the end of their careers just as our eligibility period starts, so the centreforward role goes to Gabon’s Aubameyang, who has been a lethal forward in France, Germany, England and Spain for the last 11 years. Up to the start of the 2022/23 season, he had
scored more than 300 goals in Europe and was named African Footballer of the Year in 2015.
Sadio Mané (Senegal)
Mane is arguably the hottest property in Africa right now and at the peak of his powers, both for club and country. He Helped Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations title in February and followed that up with a beating Salah’s Egypt for a place at the World Cup in Qatar. He took the bold step of leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich at the start of the 2022/23 campaign but hit the ground running and has continued
to bang in the goals in the Bundesliga. He is the reigning
African Footballer of the Year, having also won in 2019.