George Weah remains Africa’s sole winner of the Ballon d’Or, his recognition as the world’s finest footballer in the mid-nineties a remarkable anomaly given the talent the continent has produced during the modern era.
Several of Africa’s leading lights have made a huge impression on European football in recent years, including on the biggest stage in club football – the UEFA Champions League.
We’ve decided to look back at some of the very best to star in continental competition, here are the six highest scoring African players in Champions League history:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 15 goals
Arsenal’s continued absence from the Champions League means Aubameyang is yet to feature in Europe’s premier competition since his move to English football, though the forward will no doubt be keen to return to a stage where he has shone in recent years.
The Gabon international proved a regular source of goals at Champions League level during his time at former club Borussia Dortmund, scoring 15 goals including a strike against the Gunners during the group stages in 2014.
Aubameyang’s finest Champions League season to date came two years later, however, scoring seven times during Dortmund’s run to the quarter-finals including a last-16 hat-trick against Benfica.
Seydou Doumbia – 15 goals
Newcastle fans may remember a disappointing goalless loan spell at St James’ Park for Doumbia, the Ivorian struggling to make an impression in just three substitute appearances despite being amongst Africa’s most prolific Champions League goalscorers.
Doumbia’s nomadic career would take in spells at the likes of Young Boys, Roma and Sporting Lisbon, but it would be at CSKA Moscow where he enjoyed the best period of his career.
The forward scored regularly in the Champions League for the Russian side with Manchester City his preferred opposition, Doumbia netting five times against the Premier League side – including both goals during a 2-1 victory at the Etihad in 2014.
Further goals also came against both Manchester United and Arsenal, the latter during a prolific loan spell in Switzerland at European regulars Basel.
Sadio Mane – 16 goals
The fourth-highest scoring African player in Champions League history is Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, despite the Senegalese star having featured in Europe’s leading club competition for just three seasons.
Mane’s first season at Champions League level saw the forward score ten times as Jurgen Klopp’s side finished as runners-up, including a stunning hat-trick against Porto in the last-16.
Further goals would come in the quarter-finals and semi-finals before scoring in the club’s final defeat to Real Madrid, becoming just the third African player to score in the showpiece.
Mane added four further goals as Liverpool were crowned champions of Europe last season, before another two in this season’s competition to take his overall tally to 16. Mane’s 16 goals have come in just 32 appearances, the best goals-per-game ratio of any player on this list.
The pass. That finish 🔥
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 13, 2020
Mohamed Salah – 22 goals
Sitting just ahead of Mane in the list of Africa’s most prolific Champions League goalscorers is Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian having netted 22 goals at the top level.
Salah’s first Champions League goals came during his rise to prominence at Basel, netting both home and away against Chelsea during the 2013/14 group stages – a club he would later represent before spells at Fiorentina and Roma.
His arrival on Merseyside proved to be the catalyst for his emergence as one of the world’s finest forwards, however, scoring prolifically in a Liverpool shirt with 19 goals in just 35 Champions League appearances.
The most important of which would come via the penalty spot to open the scoring in the 2019 final, the Reds crowned champions of Europe for a sixth time after beating Tottenham in Madrid.
Samuel Eto’o – 30 goals
One of Africa’s great footballing exports, Eto’o would enjoy a glittering career at the top level and represent several of European football’s biggest clubs.
The Cameroonian scored his first Champions League goal during a golden period for Mallorca, the Spanish side making their first and so far only appearance in the group stages in the 2001/02 campaign.
Having made his name with a prolific spell at the island club, Eto’o moved on to Barcelona, developing into one of the finest forwards European football has seen during the Champions League era.
Eto’o twice lifted the trophy with the Catalan giants, scoring in both finals as Arsenal and Manchester United were defeated in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
A move to Inter Milan followed, Eto’o helping the Italian side to a historic treble under Jose Mourinho during his debut season at the San Siro, becoming the first player in history to win consecutive continental trebles at two different clubs.
The four-time African Footballer of the Year added further goals to his record during a brief spell at Chelsea, his record standing at an impressive 30 goals in 78 Champions League appearances.
🇨🇲 Samuel Eto’o was ________
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 10, 2020
Didier Drogba – 44 goals
The highest-scoring African player in Champions League history is former Chelsea icon Didier Drogba, the Ivorian a talismanic presence during the most successful period in the west London side’s history.
Drogba’s first Champions League goals came during an impressive single season at Marseille, netting five times during the 2003/04 group stages – including a hat-trick against Partizan Belgrade – to spark Chelsea’s interest ahead of a summer move.
That switch to the Premier League saw Drogba emerge as one of the most formidable frontmen in European football, his hulking physical presence combined with a big-game temperament as he scored prolifically for a Blues side who regularly reached the latter stages.
Sent off in the club’s final defeat to Manchester United in 2008, Drogba enjoyed the ultimate redemption four years later, scoring a dramatic late equaliser in the 2012 final against Bayern Munich before converting the winning penalty in the resulting shoot-out.
Chelsea’s record goalscorer in the Champions League with 36 goals over two spells, Drogba added to his tally further with a spell at Galatasaray, the two-time African Footballer of the Year the joint-13th highest scorer in the competition’s history on 44 goals.