The Champions League is the home of the biggest football stars in the world. Since it’s inception, players from different countries around the world have made their marks on the competition.
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zinedine Zidane, Raul Gonzalez, Paulo Maldini and many others are some of the stars that have made their name in the competition.
Also, African stars are part of the players who have made their presence felt in the biggest club competition in the world and that’s why we’ll be taking a look at the best African XI to play in the champions league.
Note that, this XI was picked on the best tactical formation and it doesn’t necessarily mean these are the greatest African players to play in the competition. A total of 19 African players have won the biggest prize in club competition although Salah, Mane and Naby Keita or Sergei Aurier will increase the number when Liverpool and Tottenham clash in this season’s showpiece at the Wanda Metropolitano on June 1st.
1. GK: Vincent Enyeama
Featuring for both Hapoel Tel Aviv and Lille in Europe’s premier competition, Vincent Enyeama is one of the best goalkeepers to come out of Africa in recent years.
Known not only for his sharp reflexes and shot stopping ability, the Nigerian has the ability to both save and score penalties, taking them for Hapoel Tel-Aviv during the 2008/09 season.
10. Defender: Kalidou Koulibaly
Koulibaly, who recently signed a new deal with current club Napoli, has garnered interest from some of the largest clubs in football, with Manchester United and Liverpool both previously credited with an interest in the Senegalese man mountain.
It is not hard to see why. The combative centre half is physical and strong as well as possessing a good turn of pace. Koulibaly was an integral member of the Napoli side that came so close to winning a first Scudetto since 1990.
9. Defender: Djimi Traore:
Though he was not really rated by Reds fans, the former Malian defender was part of the famous Liverpool team that came back from three goals against AC Milan in 2005 to win a fifth European title.
The defender played the full 120 minutes against Milan in the 2005 final, as Liverpool enjoyed a magnificent comeback before winning on penalties.
8. Defender: Kolo Toure
Boasting a Premier League career of 13 years, Kolo Toure remained at the very pinnacle of the league during that spell. Kolo’s pedigree speaks for itself, boasting two Premier League titles, one with Arsenal and one with Manchester City, two FA Cup wins and an Africa Cup of Nations win with the Ivory Coast.
7. Midfielder: Yaya Toure
It wouldn’t seem right to include Kolo without picking his younger brother Yaya to play alongside him. They played alongside one another at both Manchester City and with the Ivory Coast.
Playing for Monaco, Barcelona and Manchester City; accumulating three Premier League winners’ medals, two La Liga titles and a Champions League win for good measure, Yaya Toure is the rock of this team’s midfield.
6. Midfielder: Michael Essien
Occupying the second defensive midfield role is Michael Essien. The Ghanaian was part of an imperious Chelsea team under Jose Mourinho and later went on to win the Champions League under Roberto Di Matteo.
Essien has won two Premier League titles as well as two Ligue 1 winners’ medals. His defensive astuteness and lung-busting runs made him a key member of the Ghanaian national team, picking up the Player of the Year in 2007.
5. Attacking Midfielder: Abedi Pele
At the centre attacking midfield position is Abedi Pele. Considered one of Ghana’s greatest ever players, sitting second on their goal-scoring charts on 33 goals, Pele was instrumental in leading Marseille to Champions League glory in 1993.
Alongside that Champions League victory Pele won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982 and the French league twice in 1990/91 and a year later in1991/92.
4. Winger: Mo Salah
On the right wing is Salah, whose incredible goalscoring efforts in his debut season at Liverpool last year shot his name to the back page headlines all over the world. The former Roma man was a Champions League runner-up with Liverpool last season and earned himself a healthy list of individual accolades including PFA and FWA Player of the Year and a nomination for FIFA’s Best Male Player.
He’s backed up last season feat with another impressive performance this term. The Egyptian international finished as the joint premier league scorer this season and will also be hoping to put last season champions league final agony behind him by leading the Reds to victory against Spurs in this season’s showpiece on June 1st.
No-one has scored more Premier League goals (32) in a 38-game season than Salah.
3. Winger: Sadio Mane
On the left wing is another Liverpool winger Sadio Mane. The Senegal star was also part of the Reds team that went close last season. His nine goals in last season’s competition was vital to Liverpool’s amazing run and he has continued in the same vein this season.
The former Southampton man finished as the joint league top scorer this season with 22 goals while he’s scored four goals in the champions league this term.
2. Forward: Didier Drogba
Starting up top is Didier Drogba. One of the best to ever pull on a shirt in the Premier League era, the Ivorian has won pretty much everything there is to win in English football. He has won the Premier League four times, as well as the FA Cup, the League Cup three times and the Champions League.
The Ivory Coast Legend scored the winning penalty against Bayern Munich that secured Chelsea’s first and only Champions League
1. Forward: Samuel Eto’o
Another footballing legend, the Cameroonian enjoyed spells with Real Madrid, Inter, Barcelona and Chelsea to name but a few. He has won the Champions League three times with two different teams, has three La Liga titles and a Serie A title for good measure.
Eto’o also boasts the record of being the only player to win consecutive trebles with different teams. The former Cameroon international won the La Liga, Copa Del Rey and Champions League with Barcelona in 2009 before repeating the feat with Inter Milan in 2010 winning the Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UCL once again.
Honourable mentions to, John Mikel Obi, Kanu Nwankwo and Seydou Keita who all won the competition but couldn’t get into the side due to players playing in their position.