Ranked! The 15 best African players in Premier League history
15. Tony Yeboah
Anyone who's ever watched a highlights reel of the Premier League’s early years will know all about the Ghanaian with a pneumatic drill for a right foot. His glorious strike for Leeds against Liverpool in 1995, almost breaking a crossbar in the process, made him an instant star in England.
Yeboah only spent a fleeting two-and-a-half years in the Premier League after joining from Eintracht Frankfurt, where he'd twice finished as the Bundesliga's top scorer. Yet he managed to bag three hat-tricks for the Yorkshire outfit and was a regular contender in the goal-of-the-month competitions, ending up with 32 goals from 66 games for the Whites.
Along with Kolo Toure, Lauren was a key part of the back four in Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles side, playing 47 games across all competitions in 2003/04. The full-back spent six years in London before becoming a squad regular at Portsmouth.
However, it’s his consistently solid performances – 242 of them - in the red and white of Arsenal that earn him his place on this list. The former Cameroon defender arrived in England for £7.2m – then a big fee for a defender – from Mallorca, and after an injury-plagued first season, went on to replace Lee Dixon as Arsenal’s first-choice right-back. Well done that man.
13. Lucas Radebe
The South African centre-back played over 250 times – without ever scoring in the Premier League – during his 11-year spell at Leeds. Thankfully, he was pretty good at keeping the goals out.
He originally failed to hold down a starting berth at the heart of Howard Wilkinson’s defence, but when the manager was replaced by George Graham, his career in England flourished. He went on to captain Leeds as they finished as high as third in the Premier League in 1999/2000, qualifying for the Champions League (they would reach the semi-finals the following season).
Radebe received high praise from Alex Ferguson even after he turned down a move to Old Trafford, and was also said to be a sporting hero of his compatriot Nelson Mandela.
12. Kolo Toure
The elder of the Toure brothers holds the distinction of winning the Premier League with two different clubs. The Ivorian defender, who began as a central midfielder and apparently slide-tackled Arsene Wenger on the training ground before signing for Arsenal from ASEC Mimosas, was part of the Invincibles side that went through the 2003/04 season unbeaten in the league.
After over 300 games for the Gunners, the centre-back left to enjoy spells at Manchester City – where he added his second title in 2011/12 – and Liverpool. His personality won fans over wherever he went, even as the quality of his defending declined.
11. John Obi Mikel
The Nigerian midfielder originally made headlines in England when he was photographed in a Manchester United shirt at a press conference in 2005, before a year-long transfer saga between the Old Trafford club and Chelsea ensued. The then-teenager eventually joined the Blues in 2006 for £16m – £4m to his club Lyn in Oslo, plus a further £12m to the Red Devils.
He was worth it, though: Mikel went on to play 374 times for the west London outfit over an 11-year period, winning two Premier League titles, four FA Cups, a Champions League and more. He may not have been the superstar that many others on the list are (or were), scoring only six goals, but his calm and composed style were a great asset to Chelsea throughout his time in England.