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Best African Defenders of all time

Thursday29 October 2020 | 17:10
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Throughout the history of football, the African continent has always nurtured talented players, and in this article, we will present a list of the best African Defenders of all time in our opinion!

The vast continent of Africa, with its numerous countries and populations, has nurtured talented and powerful players in the history of football, and many of these players have played in prestigious European leagues.

The performance of some of these players is so excellent and flawless that they have been able to occupy a stable position in the composition of some of the most prestigious and proud European teams.

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Although on the football field, most attention is usually focused on the performance of goal scorers and then goalkeepers, but we should not neglect the key role of defenders.

In the following, we will present a list of best African Defenders ever in our opinion, and share the personal and professional backgrounds of each of these best African Defenders in football history.

Best African Defenders of all time

When we talk about the best African Defenders of all time, we have to keep in mind that the African continent is a very vast continent with many countries and a large population. This means that the number of football players is very high, and this makes it difficult to choose the top list from these players, especially when you have to choose only 10 players!

Apologizing for not being able to name all the top African defenders on our list, in the following we will have a brief overview of the personal and professional characteristics of the greatest African Defenders of all time in our opinion.

#1 Sammy Kuffour

  • Full name: Samuel Osei Kuffour
  • Date of birth: 3 September 1976 (age 44)
  • Place of birth: Kumasi, Ghana
  • Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Playing position(s): Defender
  • Youth career: Fantomas Kumasi, King Faisal Babes, Torino
  • Senior career: 1993–2005: Bayern Munich, 1995–1996: → 1. FC Nürnberg (loan), 2005–2008: Roma, 2006–2007: → Livorno (loan), 2008: → Ajax (loan), 2009: Asante Kotoko
  • National team: 1993–2006: Ghana

The top player in the list of the best African Defenders in football history in our opinion is Samuel Osei Kuffour.

The brilliant player, who has played for prestigious teams such as Bayern Munich, AS Roma and Ajax, was known for his unparalleled physical strength.

Kuffour was part of the Bayern team which lost to Manchester United due to two late goals in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, famously beating the ground in frustration afterwards, a gesture that endeared him to Bayern supporters.

Some of his honors are six Bundesliga titles, four DFB-Pokal, two DFB-Ligapokal, one UEFA Champions League in 2000, and one Intercontinental Cup in 2001 with Bayern Munich club, and FIFA U-17 World Championship in 1991, and Summer Olympic Games Bronze medal in 1992 with Ghana Youth team.

And from the individual point of view, being among Top 30 Best African Players of All-Time and a part of Africa Cup of Nations: Team of all Tournaments, he was Ghana Player of the Year in 1998, 1999 and 2001, and BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2001.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Kolo Toure .

#2 Kolo Toure

  • Full name: Kolo Abib Toure
  • Date of birth: 19 March 1981 (age 39)
  • Place of birth: Bouaké, Ivory Coast
  • Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Playing position(s): Centre back
  • Current team: Leicester City (first team coach)
  • Youth career: ASEC Mimosas
  • Senior career: 1999–2002: ASEC Mimosas, 2002–2009: Arsenal, 2009–2013: Manchester City, 2013–2016: Liverpool, 2016–2017: Celtic
  • National team: 2000–2015: Ivory Coast

The next player in the list of greatest African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Kolo Abib Toure.

This powerful and skilled defender has spent 15 years in the English Premier League and after his retirement in 2017, he continued his work as the coach of the Celtic first team.

Kolo Toure kicked off his lengthy Premier League career by playing his part in Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ season and achieved more success after moving to Manchester and Liverpool.

At his heydays, few attackers could resist his physical strength and pass him by.

His honors include Premier League title (1), FA Cup (2), FA Community Shield (2), Football League Cup runner-up (1), and UEFA Champions League runner-up (1) with Arsenal, Premier League title (1), and FA Community Shield (1) with Manchester City, Football League Cup runner-up (1) and UEFA Europa League runner-up (1) with Liverpool, and Scottish Premiership (1) and Scottish League Cup (1) with Celtic.

From the international point of view, he won Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 with Ivory Coast national team and he was part of Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament ih the same year.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Wael Gomaa.

#3 Wael Gomaa

  • Full name: Wael Gomaa Kamel El hawty
  • Date of birth: 3 August 1975 (age 45)
  • Place of birth: El Sheen, Gharbia, Egypt
  • Height: 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Playing position(s): Centre-back
  • Youth career: Ghazl El Mahalla
  • Senior career: 1993–2001: Ghazl El Mahalla, 2001–2014: Al Ahly, 2007–2008: → Al-Sailiya (loan)
  • National team: 2001–2013: Egypt

The next player of the list of the best African Defenders ever in our opinion is Wael Gomaa Kamel El hawty.

According to many experts, he is the best central defender in Egyptian football. He played for Al-Ahly for thirteen seasons and was in the regular squad all this time. In addition, he played for the Egyptian national team from 2001 to 2013, and played an important role in the national honors achieved during this period by helping to keep the Egyptian team gate closed.

He was a strong and stocky player who specialized in corner kicks and free kicks.

Among the honors of this brilliant player we can mention eight Egyptian Premier League titles, three Egypt Cups, seven Egyptian Super Cups, six CAF Champions League titles, and five CAF Super Cups with Al Ahly club, and three African cup of nations in 2006, 2008 and 2010 with Egyptian national team.

And from the individual point of view, he was World Military Cup best player in 2001, and a player of CAF Team of the Year in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Anyway, who can forget his famous goal for Al Ahly in the final match of CAF Champions League 2008 against Cotonsport Garoua of Cameroon ?!

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Geremi.

#4 Geremi

  • Full name: Geremi Sorele Njitap Fotso
  • Date of birth: 20 December 1978 (age 41)
  • Place of birth: Bafoussam, Cameroon
  • Height: 1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
  • Playing position(s): Right back, midfielder
  • Senior career: 1995–1996: Racing Bafoussam, 1996–1997: Cerro Porteño, 1997–1999: Gençlerbirliği, 1999–2003: Real Madrid, 2002–2003: → Middlesbrough (loan), 2003–2007: Chelsea, 2007–2009: Newcastle United, 2010: Ankaragücü, 2010–2011: AEL,
  • National team: 1996–2010: Cameroon

The next player in the list of the all-time greatest African Defenders in our opinion is Geremi Sorele Njitap Fotso.

Having spent the most successful days of his career at Real Madrid and Chelsea, he was known for his physical strength, fighting style and ability to take powerful free kicks.

One of his characteristics was his amazing ability to jump in the air. He made good use of this ability to defend against attackers taller than himself.

Among his honors we can mention Cameroonian Premier League (1) and Cameroonian Cup (1) with Racing Bafoussam club, La Liga title (1) and UEFA Champions League (1) with Real Madrid, Premier League (2) and FA Community Shield (1) with Chelsea , Football League Championship (1) with Newcastle United, and Olympic Gold Medal in 2000 and African Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 with Cameroon national team.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer.

#5 Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer

  • Full name: Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer
  • Date of birth: 19 January 1977 (age 43)
  • Place of birth: Kribi, Cameroon
  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
  • Playing position(s): Right back
  • Senior career: 1995–1996: Utrera, 1996–1997: Sevilla B, 1997–1998: 1998–2000: Mallorca, 2000–2007: Arsenal, 2007–2009: Portsmouth, 2010: Córdoba
  • National team: 1997–2002: Cameroon

The next player of the list of top African Defenders in soccer history in our opinion is Laureano Bisan-Etame Mayer.

He is best remembered for his seven years at Arsenal. Lauren was a consistent member of the Arsenal first team during 2003–04 and a became known as one of the 'Invincibles' after the club went the whole season unbeaten.

He plays other sports outside of football and is an avid boxer and enjoys sparring in his spare time.

Among his honors we can mention Supercopa de España (1) with Mallorca, Premier League titles (2), FA Cup (3), and FA Community Shield (2) with Arsenal, FA Cup (1) with Portsmouth, and Olympic Tournament in 2000 and African Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 with Cameroon national team.

And from the individual point of view, he was African Nations Cup Player of the Tournament in 2000 and part of the PFA Team of the Year in 2003–04 in Premier League.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Lucas Radebe.

#6 Lucas Radebe

  • Full name: Lucas Valeriu Radebe
  • Date of birth: 12 April 1969 (age 51)
  • Place of birth: Soweto, South Africa
  • Height: 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
  • Playing position(s): Centre back
  • Youth career: Diepkloof Wolf Wanderers, ICL Birds, Kaizer Chiefs Juniors
  • Senior career: 1989–1994: Kaizer Chiefs, 1994–2005: Leeds United
  • National team: 1992–2003: South Africa

The next player in the list of best African Defenders ever in our opinion is Lucas Valeriu Radebe.

He became best known for Leeds United, a team in which he played more than 250 times and was so popular with his fans that he was nicknamed "Rhoo" and "The Chief".

He was a central midfielder who easily helped the central defense and made things difficult for the attackers with his strong tackles and acrobatic moves.

A longtime captain of Leeds United and the South African national team, he was a popular sports personality for Nelson Mandela, and he once said of him: "This is my hero."

He was an effective key player in the South African national team who won the African Cup of Nations in 1996.

The next place in the list of top African Defenders in soccer history in our opinion belongs to Rigobert Song.

#7 Rigobert Song

  • Full name: Rigobert Song Bahanag
  • Date of birth: 1 July 1976 (age 44)
  • Place of birth: Nkenglicock, Cameroon
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Playing position(s): Defender
  • Current team: Cameroon U-23 (manager)
  • Senior career: 1994–1998: Metz, 1998–1999: Salernitana, 1999–2000: Liverpool, 2000–2002: West Ham United, 2001–2002: → 1. FC Köln (loan), 2002–2004: Lens, 2004–2008: Galatasaray, 2008–2010: Trabzonspor
  • National team: 1993–2010: Cameroon
  • Teams managed: 2016–2018: Cameroon A', 2018: Cameroon (caretaker), 2018–: Cameroon U-23

he next player in the list of best African Defenders in football history in our opinion is Rigobert Song Bahanag.

Nicknamed "Big Chief", Song usually played as a center-back but could also play as a right-back.

Aside from Zinedine Zidane, Song is the only player to have been sent off in two different World Cups, once against Brazil in 1994 and against Chile in 1998.[4] He also holds the record as youngest player ever to be sent off in a World Cup, aged 17.

He was a skilled and resilient defender, and is the uncle of Alex Song, Cameroon's defensive midfielder.

His honors include Coupe de la Ligue (1) with Metz, Süper Lig (2) and Turkish Cup (1) with Galatasaray, Turkish Cup (1) with Trabzonspor, and African Cup of Nations (2) in 2000 and 2002; Runner-up in 2008, and Confederations Cup Runner-up in 2003 with Cameroon national team.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Taribo West.

#8 Taribo West

  • Full name: Taribo West
  • Date of birth: 26 March 1974 (age 46)
  • Place of birth: Buguma, Nigeria
  • Height: 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
  • Playing position(s): Defender
  • Youth career: Sharks
  • Senior career: 1989: Obanta United, 1990: Sharks, 1991: Enugu Rangers, 1992: Julius Berger, 1993–1997: Auxerre, 1997–1999: Internazionale, 2000–2001: Milan, 2000–2001: → Derby County (loan), 2001–2002: 1. FC Kaiserslautern, 2003–2004: Partizan, 2004–2005: Al-Arabi, 2005: Plymouth Argyle, 2007: Paykan
  • National team: 1993: Nigeria U21, 1996: Nigeria U23, 1994–2005: Nigeria

The next player in the list of greatest African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Taribo West.

Known for his tackling ability and after four successful years in French football, he moved to Milan to play for both rival teams in the city: Inter and Milan!

But his work in the European leagues did not end here, and he also has a history of playing in the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga.

But the interesting thing is that he is remembered more for his strange and colorful hairstyles than for playing in the top leagues in the world!

Some of his honors are Championnat de France (1) and Coupe de France (2) with Auxerre, UEFA Cup in 1997–98 with Internazionale, First League of Serbia and Montenegro in 2002–03 with Partizan, and Olympic Games of 1996 and Africa Cup of Nations Runner-up in 2000 with Nigerian national team.

The next player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Joseph Yobo.

#9 Joseph Yobo

  • Full name: Joseph Michael Yobo
  • Date of birth: 6 September 1980 (age 40)
  • Place of birth: Kono, Rivers State, Nigeria
  • Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
  • Playing position(s): Defender
  • Youth career: Michellin-Harcourt, Standard Liège
  • Senior career: 1998–2001: Standard Liège, 2001–2003: Marseille, 2001–2002: → Tenerife (loan), 2002–2003: → Everton (loan), 2003–2012: Everton, 2010–2012: → Fenerbahçe (loan), 2012–2014: Fenerbahçe, 2014: → Norwich City (loan)
  • National team: 2001–2014: Nigeria

The next player of our list of all-time greatest African Defenders in our opinion is Joseph Michael Yobo.

Alongside Enyeama, Joseph Yobo has the joint-record of highest appearances in Nigerian national team, featuring 101 times between 2001 and 2014.

Yobo is best known for his lengthy spell with Everton, where he proved himself to be a solid central defender, acting as a consistent force at the back for the Toffees for over seven years.

But his presence in the Turkish Premier League was also successful and his presence in Fenerbahce was very effective and key.

Yobo is also active in charitable activities and in 2007 he set up the Joseph Yobo Charity Foundation to help under-privileged children in Nigeria.

His honors include Süper Lig in 2010–11 and Turkish Cup in 2011–12 and 2012–13 with Fenerbahce, and Africa Cup of Nations in 2013 with Nigerian national team.

And finally, the last player in the list of best African Defenders of all time in our opinion is Noureddine Naybet.

#10 Noureddine Naybet

  • Full name: Noureddine Naybet
  • Date of birth: 10 February 1970 (age 50)
  • Place of birth: Casablanca, Morocco
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Playing position(s): Centre back
  • Senior career: 1989–1993: WAC, 1993–1994: Nantes, 1994–1996: Sporting CP, 1996–2004: Deportivo La Coruña, 2004–2006: Tottenham Hotspur
  • National team: 1990–2006: Morocco

The last player of our list of top African Defenders in soccer history in our opinion is Noureddine Naybet.

He is one of the African players who has played in prestigious leagues such as Spain, France, Portugal and England. However, his best career was with the Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna, with which he won four major titles.

An interesting thing about him is that Naybet is a devout Muslim who fasts during the days of Ramadan and is not willing to break his fast even because of important games.

Some of his honors are Botola (3), Moroccan Throne Cup (1), CAF Champions League (1), Afro-Asian Cup (1), Arab Club Champions Cup (1), and Arab Super Cup (1) with Wydad Casablanca, Taça de Portugal (1) and Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira (1) with Sporting CP club, La Liga title in 2000, Copa del Rey in 2002, Supercopa de España in 2000 and 2002, and UEFA Champions League Semi-finals in 2004 with Deportivo de La Coruña.

In this article we had a brief look on the all-time greatest African Defenders in our opinion.

Although we have seen many African players at the top levels of world football to this day, the continent has the potential to cultivate more world-class international players, provided that proper investment is made in training young and talented African players.

In the next articles we will review other best African players and their honors and achievements.

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source: SportMob
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