Eto’o, Drogba, Kanu & Africans who have won UEFA Champions League

Eto’o, Drogba, Kanu & Africans who have won UEFA Champions League

Over the years, Africa has produced 26 winners of the UEFA Champions League or European Cup, with only two of these names coming in before the 1992 era.

The 2023 UEFA Champions League final is the rave of the weekend as Manchester City lock horns against Inter Milan at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium.

The encounter will definitely see new faces emerge as champions, including one of the two African stars – Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez or Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana.

As the two African stars strive to etch their names in their club’s and European football folklore, Afrosport takes a deep dive into the other Africans who have emerged as winners of the prestigious Champions League.


Bruce Grobbelaar (Zimbabwe): Grobbelaar was an integral part of a very successful Liverpool side in the 1980s. He was the hero in the Reds’ triumph over Roma in the 1983-84 European Cup final, as his antics in the penalty shootout ensured the Giallorossi missed two and helped Liverpool to a 4-2 win after a 1-1 draw during regulation time.


Rabah Madjer (Algeria): Madjer won the European Cup with FC Porto in the 1986–87 season. His memorable back-heeled goal in the final against Bayern Munich helped level the scores at 1-1 before setting up the winner for Brazilian forward Juary Jorge dos Santos. That same year, the Algerian forward won the African Footballer of the Year award.

Abedi Pele (Ghana): The Ghanaian football legend was the first African to win the newly formed Champions League a year after the revamp. He was a key member of the Marseille team that dominated French football in the 1990s and emerged as the first French team to win the Champions League.

Pele assisted the only goal of the match as his corner was headed in by Ivorian-born French defender Basile Boli to help Marseille upset AC Milan in the 1993 final.


Kanu Nwankwo and Finidi George (Nigeria): The two Nigerians were key to Ajax’s triumph in the 1995 Champions League final when they defeated AC Milan by a lone goal. Finidi was a starter, and he played every single minute of the match while Kanu came off the bench.

The duo became the first Nigerian to become European champions and they also led Ajax to the final the following season, but they fell short to Juventus on penalties.


Ibrahim Tanko (Ghana): Tanko won the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund in 1997, when they defeated Juventus 3-1 in the final. The Ghanaian forward, however, only featured three times as a late substitute in their run to the title and did not make an appearance in the final either.


Geremi Njitap (Cameroon): The Cameroonian won two Champions League titles with Spanish giants Real Madrid—in 2000 and 2002—in the three seasons he spent there. He scored Los Blancos’ only goal in a 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in the first leg of the quarterfinals in the 2001-02 season.


Samuel Kuffour (Ghana): After losing the 1999 final of the Champions League to Manchester United, Kuffour cut a frustrating figure, but his and Bayern Munich’s hard work was repaid when they won the competition in 2001 by defeating Valencia on penalties. The Ghanaian became an integral part of Bayern’s team, progressing from the youth side to the senior squad and he played every minute of their triumph in 2001.


Benni McCarthy (South Africa): McCarthy remains the only South African to have won the Champions League, having guided FC Porto to a 3-0 triumph over Monaco in the final in 2004. The prolific forward finished the competition with four goals, including a vital brace against Manchester United in the round of 16.


Djimi Traore (Mali): Traore was a starter in what is regarded as the greatest final in Champions League history after Liverpool came back from three goals down to defeat AC Milan 3-2 on penalties. The left back’s clearance from an Andriy Schevchenko effort stopped the Reds from going down 4-0 and kept them in the game. Traore played the full 120 minutes to help Liverpool lift the title in Istanbul in 2005.


Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon): Arguably Africa’s greatest footballing export, Samuel Eto’o won the Champions League three times in 2006, 2009, and 2010. He scored Barcelona’s opening goal in the 2006 final against Arsenal, finishing the tournament as the club’s top scorer with six goals.

In the 2009 final against Manchester United, Eto’o opened the scoring with a brilliant solo effort in Cules’ 2-0 win. In 2010, he helped the Nerazzurri defeat Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final and became the only player to win the treble in consecutive seasons with two different teams.

Seydou Keita (Mali): One of Africa’s most decorated footballers, Seydou Keita won two Champions League titles with Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 seasons when they defeated Manchester United. He came on as a substitute for Thierry Henry in the final in 2009, and he replaced David Villa at Wembley Stadium in 2011. He joins Eto’o as the only other African to have won the competition multiple times.


Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast): The four-time African footballer of the year won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola. He played the full match against the Red Devils as a defender in the final and helped the Catalans keep a clean sheet in a 2-0 win.


Sulley Muntari (Ghana) and McDonald Mariga (Kenya): The African duo won the Champions League with Inter Milan in 2010, when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in the final. Muntari played nine of Inter’s 12 European games that season and came on as a substitute in the final, while Mariga was an unused substitute in the match against the Bavarians.

Michael Essien (Ghana), Salomon Kalou & Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), and John Mikel Obi (Nigeria): Chelsea’s historic run to Champions League triumph would not have been possible without these four African stars, who were as formidable as ever as the Blues won their first-ever title.

Drogba scored a late equalizer in the final and also the winning penalty; Mikel had arguably his best performance in a Chelsea jersey; Kalou played 84 solid minutes; and Essien was on the bench as he was just recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.


Achraf Hakimi (Morocco): Hakimi won the Champions League as a youngster with Real Madrid in 2018, when they defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the final. Despite not being a part of the squad in the final, he made two appearances for the team in the tournament and became the first Moroccan to win the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Naby Keita (Guinea), and Joel Matip (Cameroon): Just like Chelsea in 2012, Liverpool relied on these four African stars to emerge as champions of the 2019 edition of the tournament. Salah scored the first goal of the final in their 2-0 win over Tottenham after Mane had won the penalty to become the first Egyptian and Senegalese players to lift the title.

Matip followed in the footsteps of Njitap and Eto’o to win the title after playing full regulation time in the final, while Keita missed the match due to an injury he picked up in the semifinal.


Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) and Edouard Mendy (Senegal): Ziyech and Mendy were very key in Chelsea winning their second Champions League title in 2021. Though the Moroccan was an unused substitute in the final, he started ten games and scored twice in their run to the final, while the Senegalese shotstopper kept a clean sheet in the final when they defeated Manchester City 1-0.

Mendy won the Golden Gloves and equaled the record for most clean sheets in a Champions League season with nine.

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