Poll results are part of commemoration of CAF’s 50th anniversary

By Amin George Forji

   The Confederation of African Football (CAF) as part of festivities to mark its 50th anniversary on Feb. 8th has published the names of what it calls the 30 best African players in the last 50 years in the continent from 1957 to 2006, decided through an online public poll.

     CAF last year in October 2006 on it’s website (See:http://www.cafonline.com/news.php?id=1073 ) asked all internet users who are lovers of African football to nominate the 50 most outstanding players who have played a significant role in the development of football in Africa during the last 50 years.

According to the results that were released on Sunday 14th Jan, the Cameroon soccer legend, Roger Milla deservedly received the highest number of votes (2246 votes) from the 200 nominees, therefore meaning that he becomes the best player to have emerged in the continent during the last half century. Two Egyptians: Mahmoud al-Khatib and Hossam Hassan finished at second and third places respectively, on 2165 and 2011 votes.

The current African player of the year, Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon who is the only player to have won the award three times conservatively (2004,2005 and 2006 respectively) came on fourth position, receiving 1840 votes.
Eto’o was closely followed in the fifth position by the former Ghanian legend, Abedi Pelé, on 1783 votes.

Although CAF at the time of launching the poll made an initial pre-selection of 200 players, she nevertheless authorized interested internet users taking part in the competition to vote even for any player who was not mentioned in the list. The initial selection was done on the basis on national, regional, continental, FIFA Olympic competition and of course, the world cup.

   Moreover, considering that players of the older generation received much lesser media impact than footballers today, CAF decided to mitigate the difference by introducing a ratio coefficient, diving the period under competition into four periods thus:

1957-1970 : coefficient 4
1971-1980 : coefficient 3
1981-1990 : coefficient 2
1991–2006 : coefficient 1

   CAF had initially planned to released the long awaited results in descending order (from the 30th best to the best of the best-each player a day), from the 9th of the 8th of Feb., date of CAF’s creation. She was later bound by immense pressure from anxious internet users to publish the results in its entirety, two weeks before the scheduled date.

  Roger Milla who won the award is often credited as the inspiration behind modern African football and  undoubtedly a major actor behind Cameroon’s football success story.
Milla played three World Cups, notably 1982, 1990 and 1994. He reached his peak at age 38 during the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, carrying his country to a colorful quarter finals. He was in magic form throughout the competition, showing exceptional but quick dribbling and great vision, thus winning him a place in the hearts of football fans the world over.

It has been said that Milla is the best substitute player in the history of the World Cup. In fact, coming in as a substitute, he scored four goals at the 1990 tournament and initiated the two other Cameroon goals against England in the quarter finals. Interestingly, prior to the 1990 tournament, Milla had retired. But on the eve of the competition, he received a phone call from the president of Cameroon who pleaded with him to come out of retirement and put on the national jersey. He accepted the plea.

Milla has also gone down in history as the player who introduced dance culture to World Cup football. After he celebrated each of his four goals by performing the famous Cameroon Makosaa dance at the corner post, celebrating goals has become standard for Milla is the only African on FIFA’s list of classic players. The Cameroon-England match that Milla dominated was also named as a FIFA classical match. He has been voted twice as the “Best African Player of the Year.” He was also named in the chart of 100 world best players ever, compiled by Pele of Brazil. He was chosen along with George Weah of Liberia as the best African players of the century.

And at the age of 42, Milla played in the U.S. World Cup. During that tournament, as a substitute he scored a symbolic goal against Russia, thus breaking his own record as the oldest player to score in a World Cup tournament. After the 1994 World Cup, Milla went into music, releasing one album with his wife, but it was never a hit. He is presently a roving ambassador for Cameroon and UNAIDS.

   CAF was created on the 8th of Feb. 1957 in Khartoum, Sudan, with Sudan, South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia as founding members. Today the body has grown to incorporate all the 53 countries in the continent, making it one of the most competitive football organizations in the world.


The complete list.
1- Roger MILLA (Cameroon)                2246
2- Mahmoud EL KHATIB (Egypt)           2165
3- Hossam HASSAN (Egypt)                 2011
4- Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)                1840
5- Abedi PELE (Ghana)                        1783
6- Georges WEAH (Liberia)                 1604
7- Didier Drogba (Côte D’Ivoire )          1467
8- Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)                1209
9- Rabeh MADJER (Algeria)                 1176
10- Kalusha BWALYA (Zambia)            1073
11- Michael Essien (Ghana)                 996
12- Austin Okocha (Nigeria)                921
13- Saleh Selim (Egypt)                       850             
14- Lahcène Lalmas (Algeria)              791
15- Bennedict Mc Carthey (South Africa)782             
16- El Hadj Diouf (Senegal)                  711   
17- Noureddine Naybet(Morocco)       692                      
18-  Rashidi Yakini (Nigeria)               649             
19- Hany Ramzy (Egypt)                      608             
20- Hassan Shehata (Egypt)                 605             
21- Lucas Radebe(South AFRICA)        557                                
22- Tarek Diab (Tunisia)                     541                      
23- Mohamed El Timoumi (Maroc)       539   
24- Anthony Yeboah (Ghana)              511             
25- Salif Keita (Mali)                           476                      
26- Karim Abdel Razak (Ghana)          430             
27- Samel Osei Kuffour (Ghana)          368
28- Lakhdar Beloumi (Algeria)            305
29- Rigobert Song (Cameroon)            283             
30- Nasr Eldeen (JAKSA) Abbas (Sudan)202   

  Milla’s Football Career  

1970-1973 Leopard Douala
1974-1977 Tonnerre Yaounde
1977-1979 Valenciennes
1979-1980 Monaco
1980-1984 Bastia
1984-1986 Saint-Etienne
1986-1989 Montpellier

Club Honors

1972 Cameroon Champion (Leopard Douala)
1973 African Champions’ Cup: Semi-final (Leopard Douala)
1974 Cameroon Cup winner (Tonnerre Yaounde)
1976 African Cup Winners’ Cup winner (Tonnerre Yaounde)
1976 African Golden Ball winner
1980 French Cup winner (Monaco)
1981 French Cup winner (Bastia)
1987 French Division 2 winner (Montpellier)

International Honors

1982 FIFA World Cup SpainTM; first round
1984 African Cup of Nations winner
1984 Top scorer at the African Cup of Nations (4 goals)
1984 Olympic Games; first round
1986 African Cup of Nations finalist
1986 Player of the tournament at the African Cup of Nations
1988 African Cup of Nations winner
1990 FIFA World Cup ItalyTM; quarter-finals
1994 FIFA World Cup USATM; first round / FIFA










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