Five of the best – African Premier League players

With our beloved Premier League now 27 years old we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at five of the greatest ever African players to have graced the EPL … 

Jay Jay Okocha (Bolton)

Where else to start then with the man so good they named him twice. To sum up just what a truly magnificent player Jay Jay Okacha was, simply say his name to any football fan born before 1990 and no matter what their club allegiance we guarantee their face will soon break out in with a wry smile.

He may not have had the most successful careers in English football during his two seasons with Bolton under the guidance of Sam Allardyche, but Jay Jay will be forever be remembered for the mesmerising flicks and tricks that lit up the Premier League for a whole generation of fans.

If football is an art, Okacha was one of the most gifted artist’s these shores have ever seen.

Yaya Toure (Man City)

Manchester City have spent vast sums of money since their 2008 takeover by Sheikh Mansour, although few pieces of business the club has done since can compare to the £24 million the Citizens paid Barcelona for Yaya Toure in 2010.

The Ivory Coast international is one of the greatest attacking midfielders the Premier League has ever seen, and without his match-winning ability City would have had nowhere near the amount of success they have enjoyed over the last decade.

Toure is blessed with a unique blend of physical power and world-class technical ability, which has seen him post the kind of goal and assist figures during his time in England that most strikers would be proud of.

Yaya has won two Premier League titles, two FA Cups and been voted African Player of the year on four separate occasions.

Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal, Manchester City, Spurs and Crystal Palace)

Although stories of Adebayor’s lack of professionalism are legendary and he is massively disliked by the fans of every club he ever played for in England, there is simply no getting away from the fact that the striker is the second highest scoring African player in Premier League history with 98 goals.

The Togo international will probably be most vividly remembered for his 100-yard sprint to incense fans of his former club Arsenal when playing for Manchester City. Although on his day Adebayor’s combination of power, pace and finishing made him almost unplayable and had he had a better attitude he could easily have achieved a lot more with his undoubted talent.

Nwankwo Kanu (Arsenal, West Brom and Portsmouth)

Kanu had already fought his way back from a serious heart defect and developed a reputation as a hugely talented attacker during his spells with Ajax and Inter Milan before he moved to Arsenal in 1999.

He would win two Premier League titles with the Gunners and will forever be a cult hero for single handily destroying Chelsea with the amazing hat-trick below.

The lanky striker had a velvet-like first touch and ridiculous ability to turn out of the tightest situations when you consider his size.

Although he will be mostly remembered for his time with the hugely successful Arsenal team of 1999-2004, Kanu would spend a further eight seasons in the Premier League with West Brom and Portsmouth.

Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

The man, the myth, the legend. Any regular readers of this website will know just how highly this author rates Ivorian hitman Didier Drogba. We have already waxed lyrical about his abilities in the form of a best goal compilation and a collection of his best quotes, and if you haven’t checked them out yet then get on it!

Drogba was quite simply the greatest target man striker the Premier League has ever seen. He had the ability to single-handedly pin back an opposition defence with his raw power and athletic ability. Where most strikers struggle to win a header against big centre-halves, Drogba could out jump them and calmly take the ball down on his chest.

This is not to say he was just some big old basher of a forward, he also possessed fantastic technical ability. Drogba was not just a lethal finisher off either foot, but also a struck a deadly free-kick.

His four Premier League titles and 104 goals across his two spells at Stamford Bridge make him the greatest African player to ever play in English football.

Read: Top five ‘where were you’ moments in Premier League history

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