Five of the best African players in Premier League history

Often hailed as ‘the world’s best league’, the English Premier League has been the platform from which players of all continents have showcased their talents. It’s the leaguethat has...

Often hailed as ‘the world’s best league’, the English Premier League has been the platform from which players of all continents have showcased their talents. It’s the leaguethat has seen records broken, careers accelerated, and legends made. This season, 41 players are representing Africa in the Premier League. Let’s take a look back at some of the greatest Africans to play in England’s top flight.

1. Didier Drogba

When the Ivorian moved from Marseille to Chelsea for £24 million in 2004, there was massive expectation. His debut season ended in disappointment, with injuries ravaging his game time. But Drogba went on to have seven happy years at Stamford Bridge in his first spell and, after time in China and Turkey, returned to South West London in 2014. During his time in English football, Drogba won four Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the Champions League. In total, he scored 164 goals in 381 games in all competitions and fans still regard him as one of the club’s greatest players.

2. Mohamed Salah

Liverpool are favourites in Premier League odds to win the title this season, and much of that is down to the goals of the Egyptian striker. Since moving from Rome to Merseyside, Salah has been a hit – not only contributing goals but breaking records. The two-time winner of the Premier League Golden Boot currently sits on six goals was huge for African football with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Salah and Mané all involved in a three-way tie for the Golden Boot. The continent has certainly had a positive impact on the Premier League.

for the season, some way behind leading goalscorer Jamie Vardy on11. But his 32 league goals during the 2017-18 season broke a Premier League record, while Salah has a fine international record for his country, having scored 41 goals for Egypt in 67 caps.

3. Yaya Touré

Another of the Ivory Coast’s finest exports, Yaya Touré joined Manchester City in 2010, teaming up with his older brother Kolo. One of the finest midfielders to grace the Premier League, Yaya was a key force for City in his debut season as City won their first top-flighttitle for 44 years. He went on to win three Premier League titles and an FA Cup during his time with the blue side of Manchester. He was, without doubt, the club’s most influential player, often dictating play from the centre of the park. He departed the club at the end of the 2017-18 season and now plies his trade in China for Qingdao Huanghai, although he recently revealed his desire to return to the Premier League.

4. Michael Essien

Two interesting facts: Essien was the first African footballer to win Chelsea’s ‘Player of the Year’ award, and he also won the club’s ‘Goal of the Season’ accolade twice in three years. In nine successful campaigns at Stamford Bridge, Essien helped Chelsea win two league titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League. The Ghanaian powerhouse was a fans’ favourite, who shunned the limelight to get the job on the pitch done. Towards the end of his career in England, injuries took their toll. At 36-years-old, he still plays professional football, turning out for Sabail FK of the Azerbaijan Premier League.

 5. Jay-Jay Okocha

So good they named him twice. Okocha may not have won as many trophies as some of the other names on this list, but his performances were a joy to behold. Joining Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2002, Okocha was an absolute steal. Remembered for his silky skills and his love for a stepover, the Nigerian was a part of Sam Allardyce’s squad that went from relegation candidates to League Cup runners-up in two seasons. He was also influential in Bolton reaching the round of 32 in the UEFA Cup. Stripped of his captaincy in 2006, he left at the end of the season in favour of a move to Qatar.

There are so many other players that we could have included: Kolo Touré, Lauren, Yakubu Ayegbeni, Steven Pienaar, Sadio Mané… the list could go on. Last season

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