Who Are La Liga’s Greatest African Players?
Goal pick out our top five African All-Stars to ever feature in the Spanish top flight.
An underrated talent who boasted versatility and no little skill, Geremi achieved great success in Spanish football with Real Madrid.
He twice won the Champions League with Real before moving on to Chelsea where he would enjoy further success.
At international level, he clinched two Africa Cup of Nations titles with Cameroon—in 2000 and 2002—and would also win gold at the Olympics with the Lions.
The Cameroon stopper spent nearly a decade in Spain with Espanyol, having earlier achieved success in Africa with Cameroon giants Canon Yaounde.
The two-time African Footballer of the Year is one of the greatest stoppers ever to emerge from the continent and was a Nations Cup winner with the Indomitable Lions in 1985.
He also represented the Central Africans as first-choice in two World Cups, conceding just once in the 1982 as they bowed out unbeaten.
Essien was a late arrival in the Spanish game, joining Real Madrid to reunite with mentor Jose Mourinho after the pair’s earlier success together at Chelsea.
By this point, injuries had limited the Bison’s effectiveness, and it’s tantalising to imagine just what a player he could have become had he stayed fit.
Injuries denied him a role in Ghana’s run to the 2010 World Cup quarter-final, although the one-time BBC African Player of the Year did win the Champions League and two Premier League titles at Stamford Bridge.
Unlike Essien, who moved to Spain after his prime, Toure left Spain before he’d hit his prime, departing Barcelona for Manchester City in 2010.
He’d already won two Spanish titles and the 2009 Champions League at the time of his departure but enjoyed his finest years in the Premier League, where he was a key figure in the building of modern Manchester City.
Toure won three titles and the 2011 FA Cup—where he was a key protagonist—at City and won a record four consecutive African Footballer of the Year awards.
Another four-time African Player of the Year, Eto’o is one of the finest players to ever feature in Spanish football and was a key figure at Barcelona for five years after earlier spells with Real Madrid and Real Mallorca, where he remains the club’s all-time top scorer.
A remarkable goalscorer, he scored 108 in 144 La Liga outings for Barca, winning the title three times as well as clinching the Champions League on two occasions with the Catalan giants.
As arguably Cameroon’s finest player, Eto’o won two Afcon titles (he was also top scorer in 2006 and 2008), Olympic gold and represented the Lions at three World Cups.