African players that have won the Champions League

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This article is a tribute to the accomplished African footballers who have achieved the remarkable feat of winning the UEFA Champions League, the pinnacle of club football. It features a comprehensive list of these players who have left their mark on this prestigious competition.

The Emergence of African Success in European Football

Zimbabwean goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar holds the distinction of being the first African player to claim victory in the European Champions Cup, the predecessor of the UEFA Champions League. Born in Durban, South Africa, Grobbelaar, who represented Zimbabwe at the international level, achieved this milestone by winning the European Cup with Liverpool during the 1983/84 season.

Prior to Grobbelaar’s historic achievement, four footballers born in Africa had already secured the European Champion Cup as members of SL Benfica’s squad in the 1960/61 season. However, it’s worth noting that Alberto Costa Pereira, Joaquim Santana, José Águas, and Mário Coluna were primarily recognized as Portuguese players due to their representation of the Portuguese national team.

Comprehensive Catalog of African Champions League Triumphs

Following Grobbelaar’s groundbreaking win, a multitude of African players have gained entry into the exclusive circle of Champions League victors. The subsequent compilation provides details about these accomplished footballers, their respective nations, the clubs they represented, and the seasons in which they secured the coveted trophy.

1983/84: Bruce Grobbelaar (Zimbabwe) – Liverpool

Grobbelaar’s remarkable performance in the 1984 European Cup final against AS Roma laid the foundation for future African players to excel on the grandest stage of European football.

1986/87: Rabah Madjer (Algeria) – FC Porto

Madjer became the second African player to claim the Champions League title, leaving his mark with a memorable backheel goal that played a pivotal role in FC Porto’s triumph over Bayern Munich.

1992/93: Abedi Pele (Ghana) – Olympique de Marseille

The Ghanaian icon served as an inspiration, propelling Olympique de Marseille to their inaugural and sole Champions League victory, with his pivotal contribution being a cornerstone of the team’s success.

1994/95: Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria) – Ajax Amsterdam

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The Nigerian pair played integral roles within the youthful and thrilling Ajax squad that triumphed in Europe during the mid-1990s, culminating in a victory over AC Milan in the final.

1996/97: Ibrahim Tanko (Ghana) – Borussia Dortmund

While Tanko did not make an appearance in the final, he was a member of the Borussia Dortmund squad that clinched the Champions League, achieving victory over Juventus in the ultimate match.

1999/00 and 2000/01: Geremi (Cameroon) and Samuel Kuffour (Ghana) – Real Madrid and Bayern Munich

Geremi secured two Champions League titles during his tenure with Real Madrid, while Kuffour attained the prestigious trophy with Bayern Munich. Both players played pivotal roles in their teams’ triumphant journeys.

2003/04: Benni McCarthy (South Africa) – FC Porto

McCarthy, hailed as South Africa’s top football talent, clinched the Champions League with José Mourinho’s FC Porto, delivering crucial goals throughout their journey to the final.

2004/05: Djimi Traoré (Mali) – Liverpool

Traoré played a role in Liverpool’s unforgettable “Miracle of Istanbul” squad, which staged a remarkable comeback from a 3-0 deficit to triumph over AC Milan in a penalty shootout.

2005/06, 2008/09, and 2009/10: Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon) – FC Barcelona and Inter Milan

Eto’o holds the distinction of being the African player with the most Champions League titles, winning the competition thrice – twice with FC Barcelona and once with Inter Milan.

2008/09: Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast) and Seydou Keita (Mali) – FC Barcelona

Touré and Keita were integral members of Pep Guardiola’s supremely successful FC Barcelona squad that secured numerous titles, among them the 2008/09 Champions League championship.

2009/10: Sulley Muntari (Ghana) and McDonald Mariga (Kenya) – Inter Milan

Muntari and Mariga were part of José Mourinho’s remarkable treble-winning Inter Milan side, an achievement that marked Mariga as the first Kenyan player to capture the Champions League.

2011/12: John Obi Mikel (Nigeria), Salomon Kalou and Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), and Michael Essien (Ghana) – Chelsea

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These African luminaries played vital roles in Chelsea’s inaugural Champions League victory, with Drogba sealing the deal by converting the crucial penalty in the final against Bayern Munich.

2017/18: Achraf Hakimi (Morocco) – Real Madrid

Hakimi, a rising young talent, contributed to the Real Madrid team that clinched their third consecutive Champions League title during the 2017/18 season.

2018/19: Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mané (Senegal), Joel Matip (Cameroon), and Naby Keita (Guinea) – Liverpool

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These African luminaries played key roles in Liverpool’s acquisition of their sixth Champions League title, with Salah and Mané delivering pivotal goals throughout the campaign.

2020/21: Edouard Mendy (Senegal) and Hakim Ziyech (Morocco) – Chelsea

Mendy and Ziyech recently joined the esteemed ranks of African footballers who have claimed the prestigious trophy, solidifying their place in an exclusive group.

2022/23: Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) – Manchester City

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Mahrez, a gifted Algerian winger, etched his name into the annals of African Champions League winners by capturing the trophy with Manchester City during the 2022/23 season. His on-field contributions played a pivotal role in Manchester City’s historic acquisition of their first-ever Champions League title.


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