Who are the top 10 best African midﬁelders of all time? The great midfielders who have come out of Africa are so many that at the end of this article you may want to argue with my list or the order of arrangement.
We all know the importance of midfielders in soccer games; they literally strengthen the team at its core, providing the link between the attack and the defense.
Offensive and defensive responsibilities are in the hands of midfielders. They need to be able to dribble and pass the ball up to the forwards as well as help to break up the opponent’s attack.
A center midfielder with good dribbling and passing abilities is devastating to any defense. No defender will like to come too close to such CM which gives the midfielder space and more time to make a pass that could lead to a goal!
Let’s now see who the top 10 best African midﬁelders of all time are.
Best African Midﬁelders Of All Time
10. Théophile Abega Mbida
Nicknamed the doctor as a tribute to his football intelligence, Abega Mbida was the sole leader of the Cameroon National Football team and led them to the 1984 African Cup of Nations where he scored a goal in the final.
Mbida is highly regarded for his football skills and his ability to give clinical passes that lead to goals.
Despite his death, Mbida is still highly regarded in Cameroon as a National legend and is often cited as the Nation’s best player.
9. Mohamed Barakat
Nicknamed the Mercurial, Barakat is one of the most talented players to ever grace African football.
The Egyptian midfielder started his career in the ’90s and was part of the team until the early 2000s.
Barakat is often recognized for his surging runs into opposition midfield and his ability to disorganize opposition defense.
He had his peak season in 2005 and 2006 where he helped his club Al Ahly to win the CAF championship in both years. He also led his team to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2006.
8. Theophilus Doctorson Khumalo
Theophilus Khumalo, who is popularly called Doctor Khumalo, is a legendary attacking midfielder for South African Kazier chiefs and also one of the best African players to ever play the game.
Khumalo, who played during the ’90s was one of the builders of the African football space.
He won several the AFCON on home soil in 1996 and was the lone scorer in the competition.
He also played in the 1998 FIFA World cup and was one of the few bright sparks in the Bafana Bafana campaign.
The midfielder was capped 50 times.
7. Jay-Jay Okocha
Jay Jay Okocha is a 47-year-old former midﬁelder from Nigeria who played for more than six clubs and the Nigeria national team.
In March 2004, Football and Brazilian legend Pele named him one of the top 125 footballers alive due to his skills and performance. In 1993, he won the goal of the year in Germany.
He was named Nigerian footballer of the year in 1995, 1997, and 2000. He repeated the feat from 2002 to 2005.
In April 2003, he won the BBC Goal of the month and the BBC African footballer of the year 2003 and 2004.
And in November 2003, he was named the Premier League player of the month.
In 2004, he was named the African Cup of Nations top-scorer and the best player of the African Cup of Nations of the same year.
While representing the Nigerian national team, he was capped 73 times with 14 goals.
Jay Jay Okocha won the Olympic Ligue one title and is also a golden Olympic medallist.
6. John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel is a 34-year-old midﬁelder from Nigeria who played for more than six clubs and the Nigeria national team.
He is still active and currently plays for the Kuwait SC in the Kuwait Premier League club.
He won the 2005 FIFA world Youth championship silver ball and the CAF’s most promising talent of the same year and won the 2007 and 2008 Chelsea young player of the year.
Mikel is mostly recognized for his time with Chelsea and won the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League with them.
In his international career with his country Nigeria, he was capped 91 times with six goals and won the Africa Nations Cup.
5. Abedi Pele
Abedi Pele is a 56-year-old former midﬁelder from Ghana who played for more than 12 clubs and the Ghana national team.
He’s one of the greatest players of his generation and one of the greatest African footballers of all time.
In 1991 he won the BBC African footballer of the year and the African footballer of the same year. In 1992 he won the golden ball in the African Nations Cup.
Abedi also became the Ghana footballer of the year 1993.
From 1982-1998 with the Ghana international team, he was capped 73 times with 19 goals.
Pele won one Africa Cup of Nations, one Champions league winner, three Ligue 1 titles, and one UAE champion.
4. Michael Essien
Michael Essien is a 38-year-old former midﬁelder from Ghana who played for more than seven clubs and the Ghana national team.
He is currently a coaching staff of the FC Nlordsjaelland, a Danish Superliga club.
Essien was regarded as one of the best midﬁelders in the world during his prime.
In October 2004, he won the Ligue one player of the month and the Ligue one player of the year in 2004/2005.
In 2006 he won the BBC African footballer of the year and the Chelsea Player of the Year 2006/2007 season.
Essien also won the Ghanaian player of the year in 2007.
When he represented Ghana, he was capped 58 times with eight goals.
3. Lakdar Belkoumi
Lakdar Belkoumi is a 62-year-old former midﬁelder and manager from Algeria who played for more than 17 clubs and the Algeria national team.
Lakhdar is regarded as one of the best players in Africa and the best Algerian player of all time.
He is also the most capped Algerian player with 100 caps and 28 goals.
His 11 goals in the 1979-1978 season earned him the Algerian League goalscorer, and he also won the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations best forward.
In 1981 he became the African footballer of the year, and he was made the goal scorer in the Africa Cup of Nations in 1988 with two goals.
He was also named the Algerian footballer of the 20th century in 2009.
Belkoumi won the Algerian championship while playing with GC Mascara.
2. Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure is a 38-year-old former midﬁelder from Ivory Coast who is currently an assistant coach with FC Akhmat Grozny in Russia.
He played for more than six clubs and won several awards while playing for Barcelona, Manchester City, and the Ivory Coast national team.
He won the Ivory Coast player of the year in 2009 and the African footballer of the year 2011- 2014.
In the 2013/2014 season, he won the BBC African footballer of the year and the Manchester City player of the same year.
Toure represented the Ivory Coast national team in 2006, 2010, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he was capped 101 times with 19 goals.
Toure won one Africa Nations, three premier league, one UCL, one F.A cup, three English league cups, and two La Liga.
1. Seydou Keita
Seydou Keita is number one on the top 10 best African midﬁelders of all time. He is a 41-year-old former midﬁelder from Mali who played for more than eight clubs and the Mali national team.
He joined Barcelona in 2008 for 14 million euros and had his best club career performance with the Catalan giants.
He was the ﬁrst Malian to play for the club and scored 16 goals in 119 appearances. He also won 14 titles with the club.
On the international stage, Keita started representing his country at the age of 18-year-old.
He was capped 102 times with 25 goals and played a total of 7 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments in Mali, his country.
Due to his abilities as an energetic midfielder, he was able to play for clubs in Spain, France, Qatar, Italy, and China.
Keita won two UCL titles, three La Liga titles, one Ligue One title, and two FIFA world clubs.
Those are the top 10 best African midﬁelders of all time. Don’t like the list? Feel free to make yours known in the comment box.