Okocha, ex-Chelsea star top list of greatest African players without a CAF award

The prestigious CAF Awards are back after taking a two-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a forced absence for two years, the CAF Awards return this year.

The 2022 CAF Awards will be held next month with African football stars to be rewarded for their achievements between September 2021 to June 2022.

CAF Awards will make a much-anticipated return after a two-year hiatus forced by the breakout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest edition of the awards will take place two days before the start of the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, AWCON, scheduled to take place in Morocco.

In the men’s category, Sadio Mane, who won the last award in 2019, Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez are clear frontrunners for the 2022 edition.

But who were the most popular and biggest African footballers who failed to win the award?

Here is a list of five (5) of them, let’s take a quick look at them;

  • Anthony Yeboah, Ghana

Renowned for his spectacular long-range goals, this African superstar from Ghana kick-starts this list.

Yeboah made his name at Leeds United and Eintracht Frankfurt, the Europa League holders, where he twice emerged as the top scorer in the Bundesliga - he was that good.

But for all his excellent performances for club and country, Yeboah was not considered good enough for the award.

He is Ghana’s third-highest goal scorer, with 29 goals in 59 appearances and finished ninth in the FIFA equivalent back in 1993.

  • Michael Essien, Ghana

From one Ghanaian to another and in comes former Chelsea defensive midfield schemer, Michael Essien.

Essien was an exemplary performer at his clubs Lyon and Chelsea and this led to five nominations for these awards throughout his career.

However, the closest he came to lifting the coveted crown was finishing third on three of those occasions.

  • Mohammed Aboutrika, Egypt

For those who didn’t watch this maestro from the Nile, you need to quickly head to YouTube to get a glimpse of this Egyptian superstar.

Mohammed Aboutrika remains one of the most talented players to come out of Africa and he had fun playing on the continent.

Known for his ability to control the midfield like a boss, in addition to his impressive creativity and goal, it remains a mystery how Aboutrika was never seen as good enough despite his performances for Al Ahly and Egypt.

He only managed a second-place finish in the 2013 edition won by former Arsenal and Manchester City forward, Emmanuel Adebayor.

  • Austin Okocha, Nigeria

I had to pen down his name, he remains the most popular African to not win this award.

So, not only was he so good they named him twice, Jay Jay was so good that whenever this list is written, his name must be mentioned.

A member of FIFA’s greatest 100 footballers to ever play the game, an Olympic gold medalist, a world cup dazzler, former most expensive African player, AFCON top scorer and MVP.

How Jay Jay retired with only the BBC recognising his crazy ability is a phenomenon deserving of research in an Ivy school.

  • Finidi George, Nigeria

Allow me to end this list with another Nigerian and Super Eagles legend, Finidi George.

Easily one of the best wingers to come out of Africa, not just in Nigeria during his prime, the current Enyimba coach and assistant in the Super Eagles.

One of the few Africans to have lifted the UEFA Champions League, when he stood out alongside compatriot, Kanu Nwankwo, for Dutch giants, Ajax Amsterdam.

Finidi was the toast of European clubs in his prime, with Real Madrid and Barcelona flirting with him.

In the end, he played for another La Liga side, Real Betis, where he left incredible memories that are still celebrated today in Betis.

Despite these, the wing wizard was not seen as fit for the CAF award.

Who else deserved to win this award but never did? Do let me know in the comments section.

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