The world cup is an opportunity to showcase the best talents in world football. Unfortunately for Africa, some of our greatest players never had the privilege of stepping foot on the world stage, and those who did have never reached the semi finals.
Here is a close look at giants of African football who never graced the world cup with their skills
1. George Weah (Liberia)
He was a joy to watch in the 90’s, plied his trade in France with Monaco and Paris St Germain before moving to Italy where Liberia’s ‘Mr George’ set the world and Africa on fire. Weah, the only African footballer to be voted World player of the year in 1995, won the Scudetto with AC Milan in 1996 and 1999 and the FA Cup with Chelsea among other trophies.
Weah impressed when he filled the abyss left by Marco van Basten at a time when many thought AC Milan will miss the presence of Basten. The three time African player of the year – in 1989, 1994 and 1995 – was all strength, power and agility, and scored spectacular goals out of nothing. Africa is proud of his talent but sad that he never made it to the grand stage. 1998 would have been the perfect time to light the world in an African style.
2. Abedi Pele Ayew (Ghana)
Liberia’s George Weah is the first African to be voted world best player, but Ghana’s Abedi “Pele” Ayew was the first African player to play the UEFA Champions league final. He did that twice and won it on his second attempt. Abedi Pele, who was noted for his magical left foot and his awesome hair style graced the world with joy each time he stepped on the pitch.
The three time African footballer of the year spent his time in France where his sons currently ply their trade. The only Champions League won by Marseille was delivered by the Maestro who also helped Ghana win the African Cup of Nations cup. He says his biggest career regret was not winning the World player of the year in 1992 due to regulations. I can also say for a fact that 1994 was a year the world regretted not seeing him at the World cup. Legends like Abedi deserve better.
3. Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt)
At a much younger age than George and Maestro, Aboutrika is a legend of the African game. Young African children should wear his jersey the same way they dress up in Messi or Lampard kits. Considered the greatest footballer in Egyptian history, Aboutrika helped Egypt to win the African Cup of Nations in 2006 and 2008 and also led Egypt to become the first African side to beat Italy in the 2009 Confederations Cup but never played in the world cup.
Aboutrika is a joint record holder with Lionel Messi and Brazilian striker Denilson for the most goals in the FIFA Club World Cup (4). He finished the 2006 edition as top scorer and retired having spent his entire career on African soil. Maybe, he will be the one to take Egypt to a future world cup when he coaches them. Don’t forget, you read it here first when that happens.
4. Kalusha Bwalya (ZAMBIA)
‘Great Kalu’ captained the Zambian national team where he was an inspirational team player, a unifier and a gentleman who sought no personal glory. In the 1988 Olympic Games, when Zambia thrilled the world with their skillfulness and crushed the Italian team, Kalusha scored three of Zambia’s four goals.
During the qualification matches for the 1994 World Cup, Kalusha was not on the ill-fated flight that killed the entire team and its management when the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off Gabon on 27 April 1993. As fate would have it, Kalusha lived to see the Zambian team of 2012 lift the African cup on the same Gabonese soil where Kalusha’s teammates perished. You should see the passion in which he enjoyed watching the likes of the Katongo brothers, Mayuka and Sunzu play and win that game.
5.Name your player
Honourable mentions Tony Yeboah (GHANA), Tony Baffour(GHANA).
Over to you. Who will you add to this list of African legends who never made it to the World cup?
. Add your player in the comments below