Ranked! The 15 best African players in Premier League history
The Premier League has been blessed with some of the world’s greatest stars, and in Mohamed Salah – who spoke to us exclusively for this month’s issue of FourFourTwo magazine – Liverpool have a player producing displays comparable to the world's best right now.
He had minimal opportunities during his first spell in England at Chelsea, but the attacker has come back with a vengeance, leading to his crowning as African Player of the Year for 2017. That got us thinking: forget Eric Djemba-Djemba and Ali Dia – who are the greatest African players to have plied their trade in the Premier League?
Salah, who’s not yet clocked up 40 Premier League games, isn’t quite cracking this list (yet). But these are the names he’s going to start picking off very soon. Can he one day take the crown of the man at the very top?
15. Peter Ndlovu
The Zimbabwe international was loved at Coventry before the Premier League was rebranded, but he continued to sustain his fan-favourite status in the early years of the competition.
He was the first African player to feature in the newly formed Premier League in 1992/93, scoring seven times in the first season and forming a fine partnership with 17-goal Micky Quinn.
Ndlovu was linked with a move to Arsenal in the 1993/94 campaign, but the transfer – which would apparently have made him the most expensive signing in England at the time – failed to materialise. He didn't actually leave Coventry until 1997, when he joined second-tier Birmingham and became a popular figure at St Andrew's.
14. Tony Yeboah
Anyone who has 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.
13. Sadio Mané
The 25-year-old Senegalese winger made his name in England after joining Southampton from Red Bull Salzburg in 2014. Like many others before and after him, his performances – including an astonishing, record-breaking hat-trick in two minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa – led to a £34m move to Liverpool in summer 2016.
Mané continued his fine form with Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, winning their player-of-the-year award in his first season, having netted 13 times in 27 Premier League outings.
The speedster is now part of a formidable frontline alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino at Anfield – despite Philippe Coutinho’s departure to Barcelona breaking up the brilliant but briefly united quartet.
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 solid performances – 242 of them - in the red and white of Arsenal that earns 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.
11. Lucas Radebe
The South African centre-back played over 250 times – without ever scoring in the 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.