When evaluating Africa’s greatest player of all time, four names stand above the rest: Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, George Weah and Samuel Eto’o, but the greatest of these is Eto’o, who announced his retirement on Saturday.
This quartet have won more in terms of major individual, club and international honours than Africa’s other elite stars, but even among such exalted company, Eto’o stands above the rest, even though he didn’t have the innate quality of Weah, who remains, to this day, the only African player to win the Ballon d’Or.
Certainly, Eto’o didn’t produce the kind of moments of magic that the Liberia president did during that famous goal for AC Milan against Hellas Verona, for example, and indeed, it’s hard to find too many players in history—let alone African stars—who could match that show of technique, invention and balance.
However, Weah’s trophy haul, for one so talented, can’t match Eto’o’s.
Two Serie A titles were all that the ex-striker had to show for his time in Italy, where he arrived at Milan in between two fine cycles, while a Ligue 1crown with Paris Saint-Germain and an FA Cupwith Chelsea were scant reward for one so talented.
At international level, obviously, it isn’t truly a level playing field, although while Weah’s two Africa Cup of Nations appearances with the Lone Stars represent an admirable achievement, he never made a mark on the continental showpiece nor graced a World Cup.
It’s a similar story in the international arena for Drogba when compared with Eto’o.
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