My African footballer of the year winners list will cover even when it wasn’t awarded by the Confederation of African Football.
Yes, that’s right. It wasn’t until 1992 that CAF became the body giving the award to the best African footballer each year. But before then, i.e. between 1970 and 1994, the African Footballer of the Year Golden Ball award was solely awarded by France Football magazine.
The two awards run concurrently for three years, which explains why between 1992 and 1994 my past African footballer of the year list has more than one winner. But after 1994, the French Football Magazine awards was discontinued after the Ballon d’Or (European Footballer of the Year) – also awarded by the same magazine – was opened to players of non-European nationality.
CAF obviously organised its own awards for the best player on the continent to rival the one by the French Football Magazine.
Samuel Eto’o (from Cameroon) was the first to be crowned on four occasions – just as he remains the all time top goalscorer in the Africa Nations Cup. He won it the CAF Award in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010 but that record has since been equalled by Ivorian Yaya Toure, who made it four wins consecutively in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In other words, Eto’o and Touré are the players who have won the award the most times.
El Hadji Diouf from Senegal, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Ivorian icon Didier Drogba may all be CAF awards winners twice: 2001 and 2002; 2017 and 2018; 2006 and 2009 respectively, but the first player to have been named CAF African Player of the Year on two occasions was ex-Super Eagles of Nigeria captain, Nwankwo Kanu, in 1996 and 1999.
See all the CAF player of the year multiple winners in a glance:
- Samuel Eto’o (4)
- Yaya Touré (4)
- George Weah (3)
- Abedi Pele (3)
- Didier Drogba (2)
- Roger Milla (2)
- Mohamed Salah (2)
- Nwankwo Kanu (2)
- El Hadji Diouf (2)
In all, 17 players have so far been decorated as CAF African player of the year since 1992.
Let me now reel out the African footballers of the year.
Full list of African Footballer of the Year award winners:
- 1970: Salif Keita (St Etienne, France and Mali)
- 1971: Ibrahim Sunday (Asante Kotoko and Ghana)
- 1972: Cherif Souleymane (Hafia and Guinea)
- 1973: Tshimen Bwanga (TP Mazembe Englebert and Zaire)
- 1974: Paul Moukila (CARA Brazzaville and Congo)
- 1975: Ahmed Faras (Mohammedia and Morocco)
- 1976: Roger Milla (Canon Yaounde and Cameroon)
- 1977: Tarak Dhiab (Esperance and Tunisia)
- 1978: Karim Abdoul Razak (Asante Kotoko and Ghana)
- 1979: Thomas Nkono (Canon Yaounde and Cameroon)
- 1980: Jean Manga Onguene (Canon Yaounde and Cameroon)
- 1981: Lakhdar Belloumi (GCR Mascara and Algeria)
- 1982: Thomas Nkono (Espanyol, Spain and Cameroon)
- 1983: Mahmoud Al Khatib (Al Ahli and Egypt)
- 1984: Theophile Abega (Toulouse, France and Cameroon)
- 1985: Mohamed Timoumi (Royal Armed Forces and Morocco)
- 1986: Badou Ezaki (Real Mallorca, Spain and Morocco)
- 1987: Rabah Madjer (FC Porto, Portugal and Algeria)
- 1988: Kalusha Bwalya (Cercle Bruges, Belgium and Zambia)
- 1989: George Weah (Monaco, France and Liberia)
- 1990: Roger Milla (St Denis, Reunion and Cameroon)
- 1991: Abedi Pele Ayew (Olympique Marseille, France and Ghana)
- 1992: Abedi Pele Ayew (Olympique Marseille, France and Ghana)*
- 1993: Abedi Pele Ayew (Olympique Lyonnaise, France and Ghana) / Rashidi Yekini (Vitoria de Setubal, Portugal and Nigeria)*
- 1994: George Weah (Paris St Germain, France and Liberia) / Emmanuel Amunike (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal and Nigeria)*
- 1995: George Weah (AC Milan, Italy and Liberia)
- 1996: Nwankwo Kanu (Inter Milan, Italy and Nigeria)
- 1997: Victor Ikpeba (Monaco, France and Nigeria)
- 1998: Mustapha Hadji (Deportivo Coruna, Spain and Morocco)
- 1999: Nwankwo Kanu (Arsenal, England and Nigeria)
- 2000: Patrick Mboma (Parma, Italy and Cameroon)
- 2001: El Hadji Diouf (Rennes, France and Senegal)
- 2002: El Hadji Diouf (Liverpool, England and Senegal)
- 2003: Samuel Eto’o (Real Mallorca, Spain and Cameroon)
- 2004: Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona, Spain and Cameroon)
- 2005: Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona, Spain and Cameroon)
- 2006: Didier Drogba (Chelsea, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2007: Frederic Kanoute (Sevilla, Spain and Mali)
- 2008: Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal, England and Togo)
- 2009: Didier Drogba (Chelsea, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2010: Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan, Italy and Cameroon)
- 2011: Yaya Toure (Manchester City, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2012: Yaya Toure (Manchester City, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2013: Yaya Toure (Manchester City, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2014: Yaya Toure (Manchester City, England and Ivory Coast)
- 2015: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Germany and Gabon)
- 2016: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City, England and Algeria)
- 2017: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, England and Egypt)
- 2018: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool, England and Egypt)
- 2019: Sadio Mane (Liverpool, England and Senegal)
Note: in the above African Footballer Of The Year Winners list:
- In 1992 Abedi Pele won the vote in both CAF and France Football polls.
- And in 1993 Rashidi Yekini and Abedi Pele emerged winners in the CAF and France Football respectively.
- While in 1994 Emmanuel Amunike and George Weah emerged winners in the CAF and France Football respectively.
- Also, the clubs recorded beside their names are the clubs they played for as at the time the player was made CAF footballer of the year.