GOALâ€™s Shina Oludare examine greats who never won the Caf Player of the Year Award despite their brilliance and achievements in the game.
Sadio Mane has won the 2022 African Player of the Year prize ahead of Liverpoolâ€™s Mohamed Salah and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, claiming the prestigious prize at the Caf Awards ceremony in Rabat on Thursday.
With this, he becomes the fifth African after El Hadji Diouf, Samuel Etoâ€™o, Yaya Toure, and Salah to win the award in consecutive editions since Caf took over the distribution of the award in 1992.
Nonetheless, this piece looks at African football icons who never landed this individual prize despite their brilliance during their active days.
John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)
Mikel is one of the most decorated African players of all time.
His trophy-laden career at Chelsea saw him win the Champions League, Europa League, two Premier League titles and four FA Cup diadems.
On the international scene, he won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations while finishing third in the same competition on three occasions.
The closest he came to winning this individual prize was in 2013 but he was beaten to it by Toure.
Anthony Yeboah (Ghana)
The legendary Black Stars forward finished second compatriot Abedi Pele twice and came ninth in the 1993 Fifa Ballon d’Or, won by Italyâ€™s Roberto Baggio.
Seydou Keita (Mali)
He was beaten to the award by Toure in 2011.
Keita picked up three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey, three Supercopa de Espana and two Champions League titles with Barcelona.
Ahmed Hassan (Egypt)
The four-time Africa Cup of Nations winner is one of the worldâ€™s most-capped male players ever. His 184 outings for the Pharaohs are unlikely to be bested any time soon by an African.
Finidi George (Nigeria)
One of Africa’s greatest wingers and even Real Madrid & Barcelona were interested in him.
The Champions League winner is rated 10th best African player of the last century according to the International Federation of Football History yet did not win the African Player of the Year award and was never nominated.
Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt)
Despite winning a record four African Inter-Club Player of the Year titles, winning the big prize never happened for the Egyptian great as he was beaten to the crown by Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor in 2008, his best year.
Michael Essien (Ghana)
Tied with Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure as the African footballer with most consecutive nominations in the award (five), the Champions League winner is one of the most unlucky players not to have won the crown.
He finished third on every occasion.
Benni McCarthy (South Africa)
One of the few Africans to have won the Champions League, the deadly striker was the most outstanding individual at the 1998 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations where he scooped the top scorer’s award.
He remains Bafana Bafanaâ€™s all-time top scorer.
Segun Odegbami (Nigeria)
â€˜Mathematicalâ€™, Super Eaglesâ€™ second-highest scorer of all time, lost out on the award twice (1977 & 1980).
The veteran was the second player after Laurent Pokou to win back-to-back Afcon top scorer awards.
Asamoah Gyan (Ghana)
Bowed to Etoâ€™o at the award ceremony in 2010.
The skillful forward, who is the youngest player ever to score for the Black Stars, holds the record as the highest scoring African at the Fifa World Cup with six goals.
Yet he has not won the African Player of the Year title.
Joseph-Antoine Bell (Cameroon)
He is recognised by IFFHS as Africaâ€™s greatest goalkeeper of the 20th century and was twice runner-up in the African Footballer of the Year award.
Daniel Amokachi (Nigeria)
Despite being one of Nigeriaâ€™s deadliest strikers, he was the first player to score in the Uefa Champions League in its present format.
The Bull also came close twice to winning the award in 1994 and 1996, where he was beaten by compatriots Emmanuel Amuneke and Nwankwo Kanu, respectively.
Noureddine Naybet (Morocco)
He is one of Africaâ€™s finest defenders ever. Naybet played a record 115 matches for the Atlas Lions, representing the country in two World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations tournaments.
Hossam Hassan (Egypt)
The sublime poacher was a key figure in three of Egyptâ€™s Afcon triumphs in 1986, 1998 and 2006.
He remains the Pharaohâ€™s top scorer of all time with 68 goals in 176 outings but was never considered good enough for the African Player of the Year award.
Samuel Kuffour (Ghana)
He lost out on the crown to Kanu and (1999) and Diouf (2001) following his exploits with Bayern Munich.
In 250 games for Bayern, he won 17 trophies in 12 years and was nominated for the 2001 Ballon dâ€™Or.
Rigobert Song (Cameroon)
Song is one of the two players to have featured in eight Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and boasts of the highest number of consecutive games played at the tourney with 35 first-team games, where he led the Indomitable Lions to two titles in 2000 and 2002.
Laurent Pokou (Cote dâ€™Ivoire)
A superb finisher, he was a striker of many firsts.
The first player to score five goals in a game at the Africa Cup of Nations and the first player to win the Afcon golden boot back to back.
He was nominated for the award twice but didn’t win.
Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria)
The unluckiest of all having lost out narrowly thrice.
Okocha was top scorer and MVP at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations and is one of the five Africans in the Fifa greatest 100 footballers shortlist.