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Sports News of Friday, 12 June 2020

Source: Pulse Ghana

Abedi Pele & Ghanaian trio named in top 10 Africans to play in Serie A

Africans have over the years contributed to making the Italian topflight league excited.

They have scored great goals, delivered incisive passes and marshalled the defence very efficiently.

Below are the top ten best performing African players in the Serie A of all-time.

1. Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto Fils after an impressive career at Barcelona, winning a treble of UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey in 2009, joined Inter Milan and repeated the same feat in 2010 to become the first player to win two European Continental Trebles following his back-to-back achievements with Barcelona and Inter.

Samuel joined Inter Milan in the 2009/2010 season following a swap deal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic plus money.

He helped the team to clinch a historic treble of the UEFA Champions League, Serie A and the Italian Cup.

There were times that he had to play outside of his comfort zone by helping in defensive duties, yet he excelled.

His fabulous performance helped him to win the African Footballer of the Year award for the fourth time.

The hit-man has previously turned out for high profile clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, but his impact at Inter has been astonishing.

The Cameroonian also played a key role as the Nerazzurri won the 2010-11 season, scoring 21 goals in the Serie A and 37 goals in all competitions.

With the Cameroonian national team, Eto'o won the African Cup of Nations twice and the Olympic Games in 2000.

2. George Weah

During his prime in the 1990s, Weah was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. He was lauded for his speed, work-rate, stamina, and attacking instincts, as well as his physical and athletic attributes, which he combined with his finishing, technical ability and creativity

He is the only African player to have won the FIFA Footballer of the Year and Ballon d'Or in 1995.

Weah also won the African Footballer of the Year.

He played close 120 Serie A matches for Milan scoring 46 domestic goals and is most remembered for his wonder goal against Verona at the San Siro where he took on the entire opposing side, running the entire length of the pitch.

Overall he played 126 times in Italy and bagged 53 goals.

3. Kwadwo Asamoah

A dynamic, hardworking, energetic, versatile and tactically intelligent player, Asamoah is primarily known for his pace, strength, stamina, and his outstanding technical characteristics, as well as his ability to read the game; although he primarily serves as a ball-winner, these attributes allow him to be effective both offensively and defensively, and enable him to play in several positions on the pitch in defence or midfield.

Asamoah is one of the most successful players in the Serie A, having won six titles with Juventus from 2013 to 2018.

He has spent his entire professional football career in the Serie A. His journey started in 2008 with Udinese and he has played a total of 270 games and scored 13 goals in the process.

From Udinese, he joined Juventus before he moved to Inter Milan, where he is currently plying his trade.

Aside from his six Serie A titles, he was part of the Juventus team that finished runners-up in the UEFA Champions League in both 2015 and 2017.

He has also excelled at the national team level. He was part of the Black Stars teams that finished runners-up in 2010 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and has also represented Ghana in two FIFA World Cups- 2010 and 2014.

4. Taribo West: (Inter – 1997-1999, Milan 1999-2000)

A Nigerian; he turned out for the two giant Milan sides where he played as a defender. However, he had a more successful stint at Inter Milan where he was a vital part of the side that enjoyed European glory by winning the UEFA Cup 1998.

He was considered by many as ‘the rock’ in the heart of that Inter defence, and his unassuming style, not to mention his trademark hairstyles made him stand out among his teammates. But at the end of the 1998–99 season following clashes with former Internazionale coach, Mircea Lucescu it was clear his future at the Nerazzurri was in doubt.

Once Marcello Lippi was made boss he was told to look for a new club. It wasn’t long before he found one, AC Milan stepped in and offered him a chance to remain at the San Siro, though his time with the Rossoneri was less than happy as he only managed four appearances for the club before moving on to England in 2000, then after jumping from club to club he announced his retirement in 2008.

5. Kanu Nwankwo: (Inter – 1996-1999)

Another Nigerian that is well known and respected in the game. Kanu is one of the biggest names in African football. He moved to Italy as a high profile youngster following a successful period with Ajax in which he played a part in their Champions League success over Milan.

Kanu, a second striker who turned out for Inter Milan he is regarded as one of the most successful Africans ever to play the game and has collected a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year awards as well as a Premier League title and an Olympic Gold Medal.

His time at Inter was cut short after he underwent a medical examination, which revealed a serious heart defect. With the help of the club, he recovered and went onto tremendous success with Arsenal.

6. Patrick Mboma: (Cagliari – 1998-2000, Parma – 2000-2001)

The Cameroonian plied his trade for the majority of his career in France before Cagliari snapped him up in 1998 from Japanese side Gamba Osaka with whom he had just spent a season. It was his impressive form in the J-League, 25 goals in 28 matches, coupled with a goal at the 1998 World Cup persuaded the Sardinians to bring him to the peninsula.

After two seasons with the Isolani, he made a move to Parma and it was during his time there that he won the prestigious African Footballer of the Year Award. He is known for his powerful long-range shots. He also had a great international career and was widely feared by opponents on the African continent.

He played 64 Italian domestic games and scored 20 goals in the process. Mboma retired from the game in 2005.

7. Obafemi Martins: (Reggiana – 2001, Inter – 2001-2006)

The Nigerian caught the eye of football enthusiast in Italy and indeed around Europe with his lightning speed acceleration and pace. His first club in Europe was Reggiana where he broke into the first team and after just two appearances for the Teste quadre he caught the eye of Inter Milan scouts who immediately signed him up for €750,000 in 2001.

In his first season, he scored 23 goals for Inter’s primavera side, helping them to the Italian Under-18 title and this form resulted in a chance to impress in the first team. His pace quickly earned him a reputation and was a major problem defender had to deal with. But it was only after a couple of seasons with the Nerazzurri that he became a first-team regular for the Milan club forming a formidable partnership with Brazilian Adriano, whose power and strength complemented the sheer speed of Martins.

He scored 49 goals in 137 games in Italy. He is still in the game with Russian side Rubin Kazan.

8.Stephen Appiah

Appiah was a talented, tenacious, and physically strong, all-round box-to-box midfielder, who was capable of defending well, as well as orchestrating attacks, creating chances for teammates, and even scoring goals himself, due to his vision, technique, aggressive tackling, athletic attributes, stamina, and his powerful and accurate shot from distance with his right foot.

He played for five clubs in the Serie A. The former Black Stars skipper made his Serie debut in 1997 at Udinese and after spending three seasons he joined Parma in 2000 and spent another three seasons and within the period had a season-long loan spell at Brescia, before his move to Juventus for a two-year term.

Appiah would later play for Bologna and Cesena.

He had a great international career- captained Ghana to qualify for their first-ever FIFA World Cup in 2006 and also led them in 2010 Mundial

Stephen Appiah: (Udinese – 1997-2000, Parma 2000-2003, Brescia[loan] – 2002-2003, Juventus 2003-2005, Bologna – 2009-2010, Cesena – 2010-Present)

9.Abedi Pele

A talented, technically gifted, and creative playmaker, Pele was known for his speed, close control, and dribbling skills, as well as his passing and goalscoring ability.

Considered to be one of the greatest African players of all time, he usually played as an attacking midfielder or as a forward.

Due to his playing ability, he was nicknamed Pele after the legendary Brazilian player Edson Arantes Do Nascimento 'Pele' due to the similarities in their play. His nickname Pele formed part of his name.

Abed Ayew Pele had a great career with French giants Olympique Marseille, where he won the French Ligue 1, UEFA Champions League and several other trophies.

Ayew joined Torino from Olympique Lyon in 1994 and spent two seasons in the Serie A, scoring 11 goals in the process for his side.

The left-footed player also excelled with the Black Stars of Ghana- he was part of the team that won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1982 and captained the West African powerhouse as they reached the final of the 1992 AFCON.

At the peak of his career, the man affectionately called the 'Maestro' was adjudged the African Footballer of the Year for three consecutive seasons.

10.Sulley Muntari

The Ghanaian midfielder who is noted for his work rate, strength, visionary passes and great goals, especially from long range played for the two big Milan clubs- Inter Milan and AC Milan.

He had a great career with Inter Milan where he won three Serie A titles and UEFA Champions League.

Muntari was also effective for the Black Stars playing in all their three FIFA World Cup appearances- 2006, 2010 and 2014.

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