The 5 Greatest Pre-Season Goals of the Modern Era

?Pre-season is rubbish isn’t it? The matches are at weird times in a far and distant land, effort levels leave a lot of be desired and, quite frankly, the results don’t bare a single bit of relevance.

Whilst it doesn’t do much to truly fill the hole that’s been in our lives since proper football finished at the end of the Women’s World Cup, it can produce some incredible goals as some of the world’s greatest players express themselves with the freedom that comes from playing in matches that…basically don’t matter.

Harry Kane produced one of these moments, pinging in a 45-yard winner deep into stoppage time for Spurs against Juventus in Singapore this weekend. Inspired by this, let’s take a look back at other brilliant goals that have been scored in pre-season over the years.


Oscar Rodriguez – Real Madrid (v Manchester City)???


One of the quirks of pre-season is seeing players you’ve never heard of do great things, before disappearing into obscurity again once August arrives. Not only is this a fine example of that, but if you consider great goals in pre-season fixtures to be a waste, then you’ll love the fact that Real Madrid were 4-0 down when it happened.

In the closing stages of this International Champions Cup match between ?Manchester City and ?Real Madrid in Los Angeles, then 19-year-old Oscar Rodriguez picked up the ball a full 35 yards out. He took a touch, looked up and floated the ball beautifully into the back of the net.

Naturally his reward for such excellence was a season in the B team, before being loaned out to Leganés.


Armani Little – Torquay United (v Plymouth Argyle)??


This example doesn’t quite have the glamour of some of the showpiece matches that are currently taking place across the globe, but it’s pre-season and the rules are different.

When last season’s Conference South champions met their Devon rivals at Plainmoor this summer, former ?Southampton academy prospect Armani Little lit up the game with an outrageous free kick.

The bend, dip and swerve bamboozled the Argyle keeper who was clutching at air as the shot struck the underside of the bar on its way into the net. 


Stevan Jovetic – Inter (v Real Salt Lake

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When a match enters stoppage time with the scores level, it’s not uncommon to see both

teams begin to play a more cagey game, sometimes happy with what they have and not wanting to rock the boat too much. But this is pre-season, so that goes right out of the window.

?When ?Inter were being held a 1-1 draw during a pre-season match against ?MLS side Real Salt Lake, Steven Jovetic took matters into his own hands and secured a victory for the Nerazzuri with an absurd back-heel.

More of that, please.


Harry Kane – Tottenham Hotspur (v Juventus)

Harry Kane

As it was the moment that inspired this article, it’s only right that it gets the mention that it deserves. Whilst we’ll maintain that pre-season matches mean absolutely nothing, there’s still something intriguing about seeing an ambitious team like ?Spurs test themselves against one of Europe’s powerhouses in ?Juventus.

An entertaining match was level in stoppage time when ?Juventus lost possession in the middle of the park. It fell to Kane, who whacked it high in the Singapore night sky, the ball hanging in the air for an age as former Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szcz?sny scrambled helplessly towards his goal, before it nestled into the back of the net.

Kane has since labelled it as the best goal he’s ever scored, which is a reasonable comment to make. Now he just needs to pull something like that out of the bag when there’s something to play for.


Filippo Inzaghi – AC Milan (v Barcelona)

Milan«s Italian forward Filippo Inzaghi

?We’ve gone back to the summer of 2010 to round off this piece, and we’ve saved the best until last.? Pep Guardiola was about to embark on his third season as ?Barcelona‘s manager, a campaign that would culminate in arguably the best team performance of all time as his side brushed ?Man Utd aside in the Champions League final at Wembley.

?Before any of that could happen, ?AC Milan rocked up at the Camp Nou for a pre-season friendly and their masters showed that there was life in the old dogs yet. 

Midway through the second half the host held a 1-0 lead when Clarence Seedorf played a delightful cross-field pass, which was met sensationally by the left boot of Inzaghi; sending a deft volley past Pinto the draw the scores level. 

It was one of the best goals of his career, in the Camp Nou, against the greatest team of their generation. Everything about it is beautiful and like so many players in the Milan side, it only seems to get better with age.


Let’

Inter Are Embarrassing Themselves With Romelu Lukaku Pursuit & Man Utd Are Right to Stay Firm

?Romelu Lukaku is a Manchester United player and will remain so until another club meets the valuation – believed to be in the region of £75m to £79m – set by the Old Trafford hierarchy.

United are absolutely right to stand firm over that valuation, because they are under no pressure to sell and Lukaku will continue to be an asset for as long as he stays, even if he isn’t a starter.

Inter, then, are simply wasting their own time the longer they pursue this deal without meeting the asking price and the associated speculation (some of it accurate, some of it not) is now making the whole thing rather embarrassing for the Serie A club.

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United agreed a £75m deal, rising to £90m with add-ons, plus the goodwill gesture of waiving a transfer fee for Wayne Rooney when Lukaku arrived from Everton in 2017. It is only natural for a club that has often undersold in the transfer market in the recent past to want that back.

Unlike Liverpool, who sold Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth for £19m in January after precisely one goal in 27 appearances, and Real Madrid, who have already raised around €130m this summer just by selling fringe players surplus to requirements, United haven’t had a good record in offloading fringe assets.

The club lost money – around £15m – on Angel Di Maria in 12 months. Memphis Depay went to Lyon in 2017 for much less than he’d joined only 18 months earlier. Another club might have got much more than £7m for Javier Hernandez, while Rafael left for metaphorical peanuts.

Lukaku still has three years, plus the option of a fourth, left on his current contract. He is going nowhere unless United say he is, and it is refreshing for fans to see the club finally take a stand.

Even though the Belgian isn’t expected to be a regular starter in 2019/20 – manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is grooming Marcus Rashford as the premier ‘number nine’ – his presence in the squad will still be important after he continued to score goals under similar circumstances last season.

Nobody could blame Lukaku for wanting to leave; any footballer wants to be first choice, while playing Serie A in particular has long been a personal ambition of his. But that isn’t United’s problem.

This was a player who scored off the bench against Bournemouth and Newcastle during last season’s busy festive period, while he also netted braces in starts against Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Paris Saint-Germain under Solskjaer, all important wins for the club.

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Solskjaer is in no doubt over Lukaku’s professionalism and ability, stating back in March, “We need to have him more in front of the goal, but he has done fantastic in his work rate, attitude, he loves scoring goals, he smiles every day, he does extra shooting in training.”

But, United will let him go, if someone pays the asking price. It’s very straightforward.

Inter are intent on getting him, with new coach Antonio Conte very keen to work with Lukaku after former club Chelsea failed to sign the striker ahead of United in 2017.

“I think frustrated is a big word,” Conte lamented. “He is a United player. That is the reality. You know I like this player. I tried to bring him in Chelsea. Today Lukaku is a United player. At this moment we are talking about a player from another club. I consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement. At the same time, there is a market, we know our situation.”

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For all the talk, Inter simply haven’t offered United an acceptable deal.

There were rumours about the 2010 Champions League winners proposing a two-year loan for just £9m, followed by an obligation to buy for £54m. There has been other gossip about players being offered in part-exchange, including Ivan Perisic, none of whom would interest United.

After several weeks, Inter were said to be preparing a £63m bid, still at least £12m short, but when the latest formal offer was made it was reported to be just £54m, and rather bemusing.

Either Inter cannot afford Lukaku and should move on, or they don’t want to pay the asking price and should move on. Whatever the case, they should move on because this is a waste of time.

Romelu Lukaku

Inter barely qualified for the Champions League and Conte, brought in with hopes of finally toppling Juventus, hasn’t been equipped with the players he needs. After struggling to get those he wanted at Chelsea, the Italian might have been hoping for different. So far it is the same.

Inter are not wasting United’s time with over Lukaku. They are only wasting their own.

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50 Greatest African Players of All Time

The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations came to a close on Friday, as Algeria prevailed over Senegal with a 1-0 victory, so now seems like a perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the greats of African football.

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From George Weah to Mohamed Salah, this is a list celebrating the very best the continent has has had to offer the world.

Here are the 50 greatest African players of all time.


?50) Didier Zokora

Sevilla's midfielder from Ivory Coast Di

Didier Zokora is the most-capped player in Ivory Coast’s history, having represented Les Elephants 123 times over 14 years.

The defensive midfielder enjoyed a varied club career where he played his football right across Europe, featuring for the likes of Saint-Etienne, ?Tottenham and Sevilla. While he was a solid defensive midfielder, goals were few and far between as he netted just three goals in 18 years.


49) Vincent Enyeama

Vincent Enyeama

The best African goalkeeper of the past decade, Vincent Enyeama is Nigeria’s joint-highest appearance maker with 101 caps to his name.

Enyeama acted as the Super Eagles’ vice captain for their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph and starred in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups – notably putting in a sensational performance against Argentina and Lionel Messi in the former tournament.


48) Benni McCarthy

Benni McCarthy

Benni McCarthy first made a name for himself at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations, finishing the tournament as the top scorer and best player.

He’s the only South African to ever win the Champions League, lifting the trophy with Porto in 2004, enjoyed a decent spell in the Premier League with Blackburn and finished his international career as Bafana Bafana’s top scorer.


47) Sulley Muntari

Ghana's midfielder Sulley Muntari celebr

Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari spent four years at ?Inter between 2008 and 2012, playing his part in I Nerazzurri’s most successful period of the 21st century.

He earned eight titles during his time in Milan, which followed a single season in England with Portsmouth where he also played a central role in Pompey’s FA Cup win in 2008. On the international scene, Muntari appeared in two World Cups – scoring a sensational goal against Uruguay in 2010.


46) Alex Song

Alex Song

In his prime, Alex Song was a formidable midfielder who was a regular fixture in ?Arsenal’s midfield during his six years in North London, before going on to win La Liga with Barcelona in 2013.

The Cameroonian also performed well for the national team as he was named in the AFCON team of the tournament in 2008 and 2010, despite being unable to win any honours with his country.


45) Gervinho

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Gervinho’s time at Arsenal was disappointing to say the least, but he has since gone on to forge an impressive career in Serie A, demonstrating his undeniable ability.

He was outstanding for Parma in 2018/19, netting 11 goals and three assists in 30 Serie A appearances, which was his most prolific season since his successful stint at Lille. It was especially impressive as he had only just returned from two years in the wilderness of the Chinese Super League.


44) Patrick M’Boma

FUSSBALL: WM FRANCE 98 Nantes, 23.06.98

Patrick M’Boma spearheaded Cameroon’s period of success at the turn of the millennium, leading the line for the Indomitable Lions as they earned the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics, and won the 2000 and 2002 Africa Cup of Nations.

He was voted as the African Footballer of the Year and BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2000, but his success on the international scene was unfortunately not replicated during a rather uninspiring club career.


43) Joseph Yobo

Everton's Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo

Alongside Enyeama, Joseph Yobo is the joint-highest appearance maker for Nigeria, 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.


42) Tony Yeboah

WIMBLEDON V LEEDS

Tony Yeboah is fondly remembered for his spectacular goals during his time with Leeds United, but he was also a well-rounded striker who proved himself to be capable in front of goal throughout his time in Europe.

He became the first black captain in Bundesliga history when he was given the armband at Eintracht Frankfurt, finished as the top Bundesliga scorer twice in 1993 and 1994 and then went on to score 32 times in 66 appearances for Leeds – becoming a cult hero in the process.


41) Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah

Kwadwo Asamoah has spent the entirety of his career in Serie A, representing Udinese, ?Juventus and most recently Inter, while also making over 70 appearances for Ghana.

He played an integral role in Juventus’ six league titles between 2013 and 2018, playing as an orthodox left-back, left wing-back and occasionally as an attack-minded wide midfielder. His versatility has also seen him play more centrally in the past, using his physicality and agility to great effect.


40) Marc-Vivien Foe

arc Vivien Foe celebrates for Cameroon

A hard-working defensive midfielder who was a key component for Cameroon, Marc-Vivien Foe’s life was tragically cut short after suffering heart failure at the 2003 Confederations Cup.

Foe earned plenty of success for Cameroon, as well as helping to win Ligue 1 with Lyon in 2002, before finishing his career with Manchester City.


39) Emmanuel Amuneke


Emmanuel Amuneke was frequently held back by injuries, which arguably prevented him from reaching his full potential.

The Nigerian’s talent was obvious, as he earned himself a £2.5m move to ?Barcelona in 1996, but he simply couldn’t stay fit enough to have any lasting impact in Spain. His international record was more impressive, helping the Super Eagles to AFCON success in 1994, while he won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award that same year.


38) Mustapha Hadji 

SOCCER-AFRICA-TUN-MOR-5

Mustapha Hadji is fondly remembered by Coventry City supporters, as he spent two seasons with the Sky Blues between 1999 and 2001 under the reign of Gordon Strachan.

The Moroccan was an accomplished attacking midfielder, who was unfortunate not to achieve much success with the Atlas Lions on the international stage. However, he was able to leave a mark on the 1998 World Cup, where he put in a dazzling individual display against Norway – which contributed to him being named African Footballer of the Year.


37) Mohamed Barakat 

Egyptian Mohammed Barakat (C) vies for t

A five-time winner of the African Champions League with Al Ahly, Mohamed Barakat is one of the most decorated Egyptian players of all time.

Despite acting as a playmaker on the right side of attack, Barakat was a hard-working individual who was able to contribute in defence, making him a key figure in Egypt’s AFCON success in 2006.


36) Rashidi Yekini

Rasheed Yekini

The scorer of Nigeria’s first ever World Cup goal in 1994, Rashidi Yekini also finished as the top scorer of the 1992 and 1994 AFCON tournaments.

Yekini played right across Europe during the 90s, cropping up in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Switzerland, but his best form came for the Super Eagles, as he netted 37 goals in just 58 appearances.


35) Wael Gomaa

Egypt's Wael Gomaa complains to a refere

Wael Gomaa was the defensive rock at the back for Egypt and Al Ahly, winning plenty of silverware during a hugely successful 20-year career.

An old fashioned and uncompromising centre-back, Gomaa played every minute of Egypt’s three consecutive AFCON triumphs between 2006 and 2010 – being named in the best XI for all three tournaments – and won an incredible 31 titles with Al Ahly.


34) John Obi Mikel

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John Obi Mikel was frequently a target for ridicule during his time with ?Chelsea, but the Nigerian midfielder, while not spectacular, was certainly efficient.

He earned plenty of titles with the Blues and cemented his place as one of Nigeria’s finest players when he captained them to AFCON success in 2013.


33) Theophile Abega


Nicknamed the ‘doctor’ for his technical and tactical intelligence, Theophile Abega was a pioneering Cameroonian midfielder who captained his country to their first ever AFCON success in 1984.

Abega scored the winning goal in the final against Nigeria and went on to be named as the player of the tournament. He also won two African Champions League titles with Canon Yaounde in 1978 and 1988.


32) Ahmed Hassan

Kamel Ahmed Hassan (C) Captain of Egypt

Ahmed Hassan was declared as the player of the tournament at the 2006 and 2010 AFCON tournaments, acting as another key member of Egypt’s dominant side.

Unlike a number of his international teammates, Hassan tested himself in Europe, spending time in Belgium and Turkey, winning league titles in both countries for Besiktas and Anderlecht.


31) Doctor Khumalo

Theophilus ‘Doctor’ Khumalo remains one of the all-time greats for Kaizer Chiefs, having made just shy of 400 appearances for the South African outfit over 15 years, before becoming a player manager upon his initial retirement in 2002.

A classy midfielder with an eye for goal, Khumalo was capped 50 times by South Africa. In that time, he won AFCON on home soil in 1996, represented Bafana Bafana at the 1998 World Cup and most significantly, score the country’s first international goal against Cameroon in 1992.


30) Kolo Toure

FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH32-CIV-GHA

Fondly remembered for his all-action approach to defending, Kolo Toure kicked off his lengthy Premier League career by playing his part in Arsenal’s ‘invincible’ season, before going on to achieve further success with ?Manchester City and ?Liverpool.

He could often appear a little unorthodox but, on his day, Toure was one of the most formidable defenders in the Premier League, as very few strikers could match his sheer physicality. He capped off his international career by winning AFCON in 2015, also becoming the country’s second-most capped player with 120 appearances to his name.


29.) Hossam Hassan

Hossam Hassan

Hossam Hassan failed to make much of an impression during his brief time in Europe, but the Egyptian striker remains one of the finest players to have represented the national team.

He is Egypt’s top scorer with 69 goals to his name, is the second most capped player in men’s international football and played in seven AFCON tournaments – winning in 1986, 1998 and 2006.


28) Rigobert Song

Rigobert Song

An icon of Cameroonian football, Rigobert Song is the most-capped player of all time for the Indomitable Lions having pulled on the national team jersey 137 times over 17 years.

Song played at eight AFCON tournaments, winning two and, interestingly, he is one of only two players to be sent off at two World Cups – the other being Zinedine Zidane.


27) Lucas Radebe

Lucas Radebe of South Africa

A Leeds legend, Lucas Radebe is the best South African player of all time, having excelled during his nine-year spell in England, eventually hanging up his boots in 2005 after making 200 appearances for the Whites.

Radebe started off his career as a midfielder, eventually making the transition into an elegant centre-back who was capable of holding his own at the highest level. He was promoted to club captain at Leeds in 1998, guiding them to fourth and third in consecutive seasons, two years after inspiring South Africa to AFCON success.


26) Mohamed Aboutrika

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Mohamed Aboutrika was another member of Al Ahly’s ludicrously successful side of the 2000’s, who primarily played as an attacking midfielder in behind the striker – and did so to great effect.

He made 100 appearances for Egypt, was a part of their 2006 and 2008 AFCON winning squads and was voted African Footballer of the Year in 2008. He also featured at the 2012 Olympics, where he registered two goals and two assists as Egypt reached the quarter-finals.


25) Frederic Kanoute

Sevilla's Malian forward Frederic Kanout

The first player born outside Africa to win the African Footballer of the Year award in 2007, Frederic Kanoute enjoyed an impressive career mostly spent with the likes of West Ham, Tottenham and Sevilla.

A natural born goalscorer, the Malian’s best form came during his seven-year spell in Spain with Sevilla, where he scored 89 goals, and won six titles – including two Copa del Rey titles and two UEFA Cups. He also made 39 appearances for Mali, scoring 23 goals in the process.


24) Thomas N’Kono

Thomas N’Kono frequently battled for the Cameroon number one jersey with Joseph-Antoine Bell, but the former Espanyol keeper was generally preferred between the sticks.

He featured in three World Cups – including Cameroon’s incredible run to the quarter-finals in 1990 – and his aggressive approach to goalkeeping also inspired a young Gianluigi Buffon to start playing between the sticks.


23) Yakubu

Nigeria's striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni celeb

After impressing for Maccabi Haifa during their 2002/03 Champions League campaign, Yakubu earned himself a move to the Premier League with Portsmouth, before he went on to represent Middlesbrough, Everton and Blackburn in the English top flight.

Living up to his nickname ‘the Yak’ was a physically dominant striker who scored 96 Premier League goals between 2003 and 2012, making him the second-highest African goalscorer in the league’s history. He also scored 21 goals for Nigeria, making him the third highest scorer for the national team.


22) Emmanuel Adebayor

Ammanuel Adebayor

It’s a shame that Emmanuel Adebayor is often remembered as a tempestuous striker because he was frequently able to demonstrate that he could be a force to be reckoned with.

He enjoyed fruitful spells in north London with Arsenal and Tottenham, with his 30-goal 2007/08 season being the highlight. He was always consistent for his country, almost single-handedly dragging Togo to the 2006 World Cup against all the odds.


21) Bruce Grobbelaar

FA CUP THIRD ROUND 1994

Bruce Grobbelaar’s lasting legacy has been somewhat tainted by the match-fixing allegations labelled against him, but he still remains one of Liverpool’s finest goalkeepers.

He became a Liverpool legend in 1984 when his wobbly-legged heroics helped the Reds win the European Cup on penalties. Born in South Africa, Grobbelaar went on to represent Rhodesia and Zimbabwe.


20) Mahmoud El-Khatib

Mahmoud El-Khatib spent the entirety of his career with Al Ahly, making just shy of 200 appearances for the Egyptian giants between 1972 and 1988 – winning a multitude of titles along the way.

A consistent and prolific goalscorer, his performances for Al Ahly led him to be names as the Arab Sportsman of the 20th Century.


19) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The jury is still out regarding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at Arsenal but, no matter how you may feel about the Gabonese striker’s overall game, you cannot ignore his record in front of goal.

Aubameyang scored 98 goals for Borussia Dortmund, making him the club’s sixth highest-scorer of all time, won the Bundesliga Golden Boot in 2017 and, most recently, shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in 2019.


18) Lauren 

Arsenal's Lauren shoots for a goal durin

Arguably the most underrated member of Arsenal’s invincibles, Lauren was an ever-present at right back for the Gunners during 2003/04, contributing to their unmatched unbeaten Premier League season.

He was a solid, traditional full-back who also played his part in Cameroon’s two AFCON victories in 2000 and 2002. His international career was short-lived, as his last appearance came at the 2002 World Cup.


17) Seydou Keita

Seydou Keita

Seydou Keita was never able to establish himself as a regular starting midfielder for Barcelona, but his contributions to La Blaugrana did not go unnoticed.

A versatile midfielder capable of carrying out any role in the centre of the park, Keita made over 100 appearances for Barcelona during their hugely successful period under Pep Guardiola, where they won 14 titles.


16) Geremi

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A two-time Champions League winner with ?Real Madrid, Geremi proved himself to be an excellent squad player for Los Blancos and Chelsea – as well as Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Capable of operating in midfield and defence, the Cameroonian won countless titles for club and country, including two AFCON trophies. He was at his peak during the early 2000’s, when he was also nominated for the Ballon d’Or.


15) Essam El Hadary

Essam El Hadary

The most decorated African goalkeeper of all time, Essam El Hadary was a serial winner who won over 30 domestic titles – 26 of which came for Al-Ahly – and won AFCON four times.

Aged 45 years and 161 days, El Hadary became the oldest player to ever feature in a World Cup match in 2018, starting for Egypt against Saudi Arabia in their final group stage match – fittingly saving a penalty in the process. Now 46, El Hadary is playing his football with Nogoom.


14) Sammy Kuffour

Fussball: 1. BL 03/04, Kaiserslautern-FC Bayern

Sammy Kuffour was an ever-present at the back for ?Bayern Munich between 1993 and 2005, contributing to a total of 14 honours, including six Bundesliga titles and a Champions League.

The Ghanaian wasn’t the tallest of central defenders, but he made up for it with acute positional awareness and sheer strength. He was voted as the BBC African Player of the Year in 2001 following Bayern’s Champions League success and at the time was generally considered to be one of the most complete defenders in Europe.


13) Riyad Mahrez

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Very few would have predicted it at the time, but Riyad Mahrez’s £400,000 move to Leicester from Le Havre in 2014 would go on to become one of the biggest bargains of all time.

The Algerian was the jewel of Leicester’s scarcely believable Premier League triumph in 2016, being voted as the PFA Player of the Season and two years later, he became the most expensive African player of all time after joining Manchester City for £60m.


12) Rabah Madjer

Rabah Madjer was one of the most important players in Porto’s history, having made over 100 appearances for the Portuguese outfit between 1985 and 1991, scoring 51 goals in the process.

The Algerian striker played a starring role as Porto won nine major titles in that time, with his most significant contribution being his goal in their European Cup final win over Bayern Munich in 1986. He also performed well on the international stage, being named as the player of the tournament as Algeria won AFCON in 1990.


11) Jay Jay Okocha

Jay Jay Okocha

 There are very few players in Premier League history who can be placed in the same bracket as Jay-Jay Okocha when it comes to technical flair. The Nigerian – who settled at Bolton Wanderers after stints at Eintracht Frankfurt, Fenerbahce and PSG – was a master with the ball at his feet, rivalling the likes of Ronaldinho when it came to montage-worthy tricks and flicks.

Okocha didn’t enjoy a particularly successful club career with regards to silverware, but he achieved plenty of individual recognition during his playing days – including seven Nigerian Footballer of the Year awards and two African Footballer of the Year awards.


10) Sadio Mane 

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Plenty was expected of ?Sadio Mane when Liverpool snapped him up from Southampton in 2016, but even the most optimistic of Reds’ supporters wouldn’t have been anticipating the Senegalese winger to grow into one of the world’s best.

Alongside Roberto Firmino and Salah, Mane has helped to form one of the world’s most feared attacking trios and, after a relatively quiet 2017/18 season, the 27-year-old was the pick of the bunch in 2018/19. He shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Salah and Aubameyang and was on fire during Liverpool’s run to their sixth European title.


9) Michael Essien

Michael Essien

Michael Essien was one of the most successful signings of the early Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea, joining the Blues from Lyon in 2005 before going on to dominate the midfield alongside Frank Lampard.

The Ghanaian was able to expertly match technical prowess with explosive power, making him an asset in defence and a threat going forward. He won four titles with Lyon, nine with Cheslea, but was unable to inspire a talented crop of Ghanaian players to any silverware.


8) Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

?Mohamed Salah seemed destined to fade into obscurity when he was pushed out the door by Chelsea following an uninspiring spell at Stamford Bridge.

Undeterred, the Egyptian soon got himself back on track with impressive performances for Fiorentina and Roma, before he made his triumphant return to the Premier League with Liverpool in 2017. The rest, as they say, is history. Two consecutive Premier League Golden Boots, a PFA Player of the Year Award and a Champions League winners medal all point towards the fact that Salah is currently one of the most complete forwards in the world.


7) Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu was by no means a prolific goalscorer, but he earned plenty of plaudits for his unpredictable and unorthodox style that saw him achieve great success with Ajax and Arsenal.

The Nigerian first made a name for himself at Ajax, scoring 25 goals in 54 appearances, earning him a move to Inter. Injuries held him back, which led to a move to Arsenal, where he went on to win five domestic titles. He also became a Portsmouth hero in 2008, as he scored the winning goals in the FA Cup semi-final and final for Pompey.


6) Roger Milla 

SOCCER-WORLD CUP-1994-CAMEROON-RUSSIA-ROGER MILLA

Roger Milla may be best known for his hip-waggling corner flag celebration, but he is more than just a symbolic figure in the history of African football.

He was prolific at club level in France for the likes of Monaco, Bastia and Montpellier and was Cameroon’s talisman as they won two AFCONs in 1984 and 1988 – finishing as the top scorer in the latter. He also remains the oldest player to ever score at a World Cup, having found the back in 1994, aged 42.


5) Yaya Toure 

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Previously considered to be a rather unspectacular defensive midfielder, Yaya Toure took his game to another level when he joined Manchester City from Barcelona, becoming one of the Citizens most influential players of the past decade.

The Ivorian midfielder was the outstanding individual during City’s first two Premier League triumphs and became only the second midfielder to score 20 goals in a single Premier season in 2014. Despite gradually falling out of favour following the arrival of Pep Guardiola, he was able to secure one more league title in 2018 before moving on to Olympiacos.


4) Abedi Pele

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A three-time African Footballer of the year, Abedi Pele built his legacy in France with Marseille, where he wont three league titles and one Champions League.

A graceful and intelligent attacking midfielder, Pele was unfortunate not to feature in a single World Cup, but he did win AFCON with Ghana in 1982 and a decade later win the Golden Ball as the Black Stars fell in the final against Ivory Coast.


3) Didier Drogba 

Chelsea's Ivorian forward Didier Drogba

The highest scoring African to ever grace the Premier League, Didier Drogba was an unstoppable force of nature for Chelsea and stakes a claim as one of the greatest foreign players to arrive on the shores of England.

Drogba’s trophy-laden spell at Chelsea included three Premier League titles and a Champions League, but he was unable to guide Ivory Coast’s ‘Golden Generation’ to any international titles.


2) Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the match

Samuel Eto’o was the complete striker. Strong, fast, hard-working and lethal, he was the star of the Cameroon side which has already been mentioned countless times on this list.

He’s AFCON’s all-time top goalscorer, Cameroon’s all-time top goalscorer and, at club level, he won three Champions Leagues with Barca and Inter – scoring in two of the finals – as well as four league titles.


1) George Weah

AC Milan v Piacenza George Weah of AC Milan

George Weah may not have won as many club honours as some other players on this list, but he remains the only African player to ever win the most coveted individual prize of them all – the Ballon d’Or.

The Liberian striker was arguably the most complete forward of the 90s, tearing opposition defences apart for the likes of Monaco, PSG and ?Milan. The neatest summary of his frankly absurd ability was his solo strike against Hellas Verona in 1996, where he effortlessly took the ball from the edge of his own box to the goal in a matter of seconds. 


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8 of the Worst Player Names in Unlicensed Football Video Games

So, we’ve just done the ?worst ever team names in unlicensed football games, but that opened up an entirely new rabbit hole that we could not resist getting lost down.

Over the years, there have been some astonishing player names in various unlicensed games. Some are fairly easy to work out, but others have built up an almost cult following as a result of their greatness.

There are thousands to choose from, but here are eight of the worst player names in unlicensed football games.


Porn Darry

Paul Parry

Starting off strong. Back in Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, there weren’t too many players with real names. However, none of these fake names were as great as Porn Darry.

The unlucky man to be stuck with this name was ?Cardiff City winger Paul Parry, who soon became somewhat of a cult hero amongst players. I mean, just look at that name. Porn Darry.

It will always be remembered as one of the most bizarre names ever given to a player, but it certainly earned Parry more than a few new fans as a result.


Jens Mustermann

Oliver Kahn

The Football Manager series is beloved by fans across the world, although many were left scratching their heads by the earlier versions of the game when they came across a German goalkeeper by the name of Jens Mustermann. Who was this mystery man?

It turned out that Mustermann was ?Bayern Munich icon Oliver Kahn, who declined to sell his image rights to the company. As a result, FM was unable to include his name, so they went for Jens Mustermann.

This name is cleverer than you may think. In German, Jens Mustermann is a generic name often given to somebody without a name, similar to ‘Joe Bloggs’ or ‘Jane Doe’. Well played, FM. Well played.


Allejo

FUSSBALL: NATIONALMANNSCHAFT BRASILIEN/BRAZIL/BRA am 25.03.98

International Superstar Soccer had to rename all their players, and Allejo was the name given to Brazilian striker Bebeto when it was released in 1994. It’s hardly the funniest of names, but Allejo means more to fans than most will ever understand.

The kind of things which Allejo could do were completely unheard of. He could pull off skills that didn’t even exist, and he could score goals that even most video game characters would struggle to replicate. He was a national icon.

Gamers will tell you he is actually one of the greatest Brazilian footballers of all time. Pele who?


Ryan Greggs

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In PES’ defence, this one actually isn’t too far away from the original. Ryan Greggs was the name given to ?Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, which certainly caused more than a few laughs amongst fans of the English bakery by the same name..

Whether he sells sausage rolls or bangs in thirty-yard screamers, Ryan Greggs could do it all. The Welsh winger was one of the game’s best players, and fans loved him.

One of those rare players who you could actually identify with little thought, Greggs was a breath of fresh air.


Gascoign

Graeme Le Saux

If you looked at the England squad in ISS and found a player by the name of Gascoign, who would you think that was? ?Perhaps famous midfielder Paul Gascoigne? Nope, it was actually Graeme Le Saux. Obviously.

Gascoigne’s own name in the game was ‘J. Platt’, who you might have thought was actually David Platt. Again, you’d be wrong, as Platt was actually known as ‘K. Hoddle’. Fortunately, Glenn Hoddle was already retired by then, or else fans would have been totally lost.

It’s like ISS just decided to give everyone someone else’s name, which made life so much harder than it needed to be. Just stick to fake names. Please.


Snake Derick

Steve Davis

I could give you all the time in the world to guess who Snake Derick was in the PES series, and you still wouldn’t get it. That was the epic name given to Rangers midfielder Steven Davis.

Be honest, you would love the name ‘Snake’. It sounds like a Hollywood villain, which is the look everyone’s going for these days.

Back to Davis, why he would be given the name is anyone’s guess. Is he slippery? Does he slither around the pitch? Does he walk around with a rattle?


Oranges117

Robin van Persie

The Netherlands has produced some incredible players in the past. There’s Matthijs de Ligt, Ruud Gullit and Arjen Robben but who could forget about the mighty Oranges117?

PES 2 didn’t have the license for any of the Dutch side, so they were all given numbers, ranging from 001 to 117. Their team sheet was an absolute nightmare to understand, but Oranges117 was the name given to striker Robin van Persie.

Ah, Oranges117. We’ve all seen the shirts with his name on the back. Children have posters of Oranges117 up in their bedrooms. We all love the icon that was Oranges117.


No. 9

Brazilian forward Ronaldo jubilates afte

We have seen some incredible strikers in the past, but few number nines have been better than ‘No. 9’.

FIFA 2000 was a fully licensed game, but was missing the rights to global superstar Ronaldo. ?Inter had the likes of Christian Vieri and Roberto Baggio, but they had to line up alongside ‘No. 9’, given Ronaldo did not give his permission for his name to be used in the game.

It just looked so out of place, in a game which had perfectly correct squads everywhere else. ‘No. 9’ stuck out like a sore thumb, but he was still one of the best strikers in the game.

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Transfer Rumours: Spurs Offer Llorente New Deal, Inter Turn to Dzeko, Joelinton Update & More

It’s transfer rumours time once again.

In today’s edition of the rumour mill we’ve got Tottenham offering a former player a new one-year deal, Inter considering an alternative to Romelu Lukaku and an update on Newcastle’s soon-to-be record signing.

Let’s get started, shall we?


Tottenham Offer Fernando Llorente New Deal

Fernando Llorente

?Fernando Llorente enjoyed a decent 2018/19 season, registering eight goals and five assists, but it wasn’t enough to convince ?Totten?ham to extend his deal in north London, leaving him a free agent.

However, Spurs may be about to pull a U-turn on that decision as, according to the ?Daily Mail, they have offered the 34-year-old a new one-year deal on reduced terms.

Llorente, who didn’t join Spurs on their pre-season tour in Asia, is still reviewing his current options, with Fiorentina being another interested party. The ball is in the Spaniard’s court, so Spurs will have to wait and see if their offer is sufficient.


Diego Llorente the Subject of Premier League Interest

Diego Llorente

From one Llorente to another, this time Real Sociedad’s Diego. The defender has forged a decent reputation for himself in La Liga, so it’s no surprise to learn that he’s a wanted man this summer.

?Mundo Deportivo are reporting that Llorente is receiving plenty of interest from a number of Premier League sides, with ?Liverpool, Tottenham and ?West Ham all looking like potential contenders to land his signature.

The report goes on to mention that Real Sociedad are expecting to land around €25m for the sale, which is a reasonably modest fee for all of the aforementioned clubs. It’s also claimed that ?Fulham previously sent scouts to keep an eye on the 25-year-old, but their relegation to the Championship sees that he won’t be moving to Craven Cottage any time soon.


Inter Could Switch Interest Away From Romelu Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku

It’s no small secret that ?Inter have been doing everything in their power to secure a deal for ?Manchester United striker ?Romelu Lukaku, but their efforts have been in vein as the Red Devils are refusing to budge on their £75m valuation.

As a result, Inter could be looking to plan B in the shape of Roma’s Edin Dzeko, who would appear to be a much more economically viable option. Calciomercato, as per ?The Sun, claim that Inter could be set to land Dzeko for as little as £13.5m.

That’s not all, as it is even being suggested that Dzeko could be joined in Milan by his current Roma teammate Aleksandar Kolarov.


Crystal Palace Eye Deal for Paulo Diaz

Paulo Diaz

?Crystal Palace’s hunt for an Aaron Wan-Bissaka replacement continues and they are now said to be eyeing up a move for Chilean right-back Paulo Diaz.

According to the ?Daily Star, Diaz – who currently plays his football for Al Ahly in Saudi Arabia – has been added to Palace’s wishlist and the Eagles may be able to land a deal for the 24-year-old for as little as £5m.

Diaz still has two years left on his current deal, but the report indicates that he is looking to challenge himself in a more prestigious league next season.


Brighton Set to Send Percy Tau Out on Second Loan

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Brighton striker Percy Tau impressed on loan at Union Saint-Gilloise during 2018/19, but circumstances will continue to prevent the South African from lining up for the Seagulls.

Tau is still struggling to secure a work permit which means, as reported by ?The Argus, he is in line for a second consecutive loan spell. Genk are being touted as one of the frontrunners to secure Tau’s signature, but they are also joined by French outfit Amiens.

Brighton aren’t giving up on Tau just yet and will continue to fight for his work permit, but his situation is being hindered by South Africa’s lowly FIFA world ranking.


Derby Line Up Loan Move for Watford’s Daniel Bachmann

Daniel Bachmann

Daniel Bachmann is still yet to make a first team appearance for ?Watford and only got his first taste of regular senior football during a loan spell with Kilmarnock during 2018/19.

?Football Insider report that the Austrian keeper could be on the move again this summer as ?Der?by, who are now under the leadership of Phillip Cocu, are eyeing up a loan deal this summer which would see him take the number one spot at ?Pride Park.

Derby goalkeeping coach Shay Given has recommended Bachmann to Cocu having previously worked with the 25-year-old at Stoke.


Hoffenheim Sporting Director Reveals Reason for Delay In Joelinton’s Move to Newcastle

Joelinton

?Newcastle supporters have been dragged through the mire in recent weeks, but it at least appears as though the Magpies are on course to sign Hoffenheim’s Joelinton.

There haven’t been too many recent updates regarding the move but Hoffenheim’s sporting director Alexander Rosen has revealed that contract details are all that currently stand in the way.

In a report published by ?Kicker, Rosen said: “The Joelinton deal is still not fixed. We are on the home stretch, but not over the finish line.  There are things in contracts and clearing processes that take more than 24 hours.” 

Kicker also add that the deal is expected to be completed by Monday.


Aston Villa Agree Fee for Mahmoud Hassan

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?Aston Villa have been plenty busy in the transfer market so far this summer and they are now close to confirming another permanent signing in the shape of Mahmoud Hassan – commonly referred to as Trezeguet.

According to ?Sky Sports, Villa have agreed an initial fee of £8.5m with Kasimpasa to sign the Egyptian winger, who is already on his way over to England to undergo a medical and agree personal terms.

Trezeguet was in impressive form at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this summer, registering a goal and an assist during the group stages for the host nation.


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