Liverpool’s Sadio Mane was named as the Confederation of African Football’s (Caf) Player of the Year last night, the Senegalese star beating off competition from Reds’ teammate Mohamed Salah and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez to win the honour for the first time.
Mane joins an illustrious list of players to have been named as the continent’s finest, a host of African footballers having made their mark on the world game in recent years.
Following the forward’s triumph, we’ve decided to look back at the award’s roll of honour over the past ten years and rate each winner.
Here are our ratings of every African Player of the Year from the last decade…
Samuel Eto’o – 2010
Former Barcelona and Inter Milan superstar Eto’o would be crowned as Africa’s finest footballer in 2010, the Cameroonian striker being handed the honour after helping Inter to a treble success under Jose Mourinho.
The club’s success was the first time an Italian side had secured a treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the Champions League, Eto’o at the forefront of their success scoring 16 goals in all competitions.
The forward’s 2010 success would be the fourth time he would win the award, having previously been named as the winner for three consecutive years between 2003 and 2005 – no player in history having won more than his four African Player of the Year titles.
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers Africa has produced, Eto’o would score almost 400 career goals in a career that saw him win league titles in Spain and Italy alongside three Champions League successes.
Yaya Toure – 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014
The joint-record holder of four African Player of the Year titles alongside Eto’o, former Barcelona and Manchester City midfielder Toure would scoop the award in four successive years between 2011 and 2014.
During that time the Ivorian would play a key role in City’s emergence as a dominant force in English football, scoring the decisive goal to win the club’s first major trophy in 35 years with FA Cup success in 2011, before playing an influential part in the club’s title-winning teams of 2012 and 2014.
Toure would win six major honours during a trophy-laden spell at the Etihad that delivered 316 appearances and 79 goals, adding to his collection of silverware that included two La Liga titles and the Champions League whilst at Barcelona.
Currently playing out the twilight of his career in Chinese football, Toure is one of the greatest midfielders the Premier League and Africa has ever seen.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 2015
Gabon’s first and only winner of the award, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been one of the most dangerous forwards in European football during spells at both Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal in recent years.
It would be during his time in German football that he would be named as the continent’s leading footballer, a prolific calendar year for Dortmund seeing Aubameyang become just the second European-born player – after Mali’s Frederic Kanoute – to win Africa’s greatest individual prize.
In the years since his award Aubameyang has featured in the final three nominees three times, his move to Arsenal in January 2018 seeing him continue to fire at a regular rate.
His record now stands at 56 goals in just 89 appearances in all competitions for the north London side, Aubameyang winning a share of the Premier League’s Golden Boot in a three-way African tie alongside Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah last season.
Riyad Mahrez – 2016
Riyad Mahrez would become Algeria’s first African Player of the Year in almost three decades following Leicester’s improbable Premier League title triumph in 2016, the winger having played an instrumental role in the Foxes’ side which caused one of the greatest shocks in sporting history.
Named as the PFA Player’s Player of the Year following his superb campaign, Mahrez would add Africa’s greatest individual prize to his growing collection, becoming the first Algerian since Rabah Madjer in 1987 to win the honour.
Since then Mahrez has continued to go from strength to strength, joining Manchester City in a then club-record £60m deal in 2018, winning English football’s first-ever domestic treble in his debut season at the Etihad.
On the international stage, he has also flourished, inspiring Algeria to Africa Cup of Nations success in 2019, scoring three times during the tournament including a dramatic semi-final winner against Nigeria.
After a period of adaptation under Pep Guardiola, Mahrez will now hope to continue making an impact at City as the club seek silverware both in England and Europe.
Mohamed Salah – 2017 and 2018
Few anticipated the impact Mohamed Salah would have at Liverpool following his £34m arrival from Roma in 2017, the Egyptian having developed from Chelsea cast-off to one of the finest forwards in world football.
Salah would enjoy a stunning debut season on Merseyside and would break a whole host of goalscoring records, scoring 32 times in the Premier League for Jurgen Klopp’s side – a record for a 38-game season.
His incredible year would see him scoop a PFA Player’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year double in addition to the league’s Golden Boot, his campaign further crowned with the award of African Player of the Year in 2017 – a year in which he also led Egypt to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Having retained the division’s Golden Boot the following year he would also retain his title as Africa’s finest player, pipping teammate Mane to the award after helping Liverpool to the Champions League final.
He continues to play an influential role in a Liverpool side crowned as Champions League and Club World Cup winners over the past year, Salah a talismanic figure for arguably the best club side in world football at present.
Sadio Mane – 2019
Having finished as runner-up in each of the past two seasons, Mane would finally be named as Africa’s Player of the Year in 2019, becoming only the second Senegalese player after another former Liverpool forward in El-Hadji Diouf to win the prestigious honour.
Mane would enjoyed a brilliant year, scoring 30 goals in all competitions last season as Liverpool were crowned champions of Europe with Champions League success over Tottenham in June. During the summer the forward would also lead his nation to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, before scoring twice as Liverpool added the UEFA Super Cup to their growing trophy collection in August.
The 27-year-old has begun the new campaign in blistering fashion with 15 goals already, Jurgen Klopp’s side having raced clear at the top of the Premier League and being crowned world champions with Club World Cup glory in December.
Mane would finish fourth in the ranking for the Ballon d’Or, but deservedly claim Africa’s Footballer of the Year for the first time in a career that still promises so much more in the coming seasons.