The most sought after individual price in African football remains the African Player Of The Year Awards and in almost two decades of its existence we have seen great players win and loose the crown. A lot of contorversies have sorrounded some of the past editions as to who really desevred the price.
With that been said, let us take a look at the legends of African football who never got the price for the most outstanding African footballer of the year.
AUSTINE OKOCHA (Nigeria) – The unluckiest of all having lost narrowly thrice. Jay Jay was top scorer and MVP at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations plus one of the five Africans in the Fifa greatest 100 footballers short list.
FINIDI GEORGE (Nigeria) – One of the greatest wingers ever and was so good that Madrid & Barcelona queued for 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.
AHMED HASSAN (Egypt) – The four-time Afcon champion remains the world’s most-capped male player ever. His 184 outings for the Pharaohs are unlikely to be bested any time soon.
SEYDOU KEITA (Mali) – He was beaten to the award by Yaya 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
ANTHONY YEBOAH (Ghana) – The legendary Black Stars player bowed to compatriot Abedi Pele twice and came ninth in the 1993 Fifa Ballon d’Or won by Italy’s Roberto Baggio
MOHAMMED ABOUTRIKA (Egypt) – Despite winning a record four African Inter-Club Player of the Year titles, winning the big prize was a wild goose chase for the Egyptian great as he was beaten to the crown by Togolese 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 (5), the Champions League winner is one of the most luckless players not to have picked 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 Bafana’s all time top scorer
DEGBAMI (Nigeria) – ‘Mathematical’, Super Eagles’ second-highest scorer of all time lost at the award twice (1977 & 1980). The veteran was the second player after Laurent Pokou to win back-to-back Afcon top scorer award.
ASAMOAH GYAN (Ghana) – Bowed to Samuel Eto’o at the award ceremony in 2010. The skilful 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 Africa’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 Nigeria’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 win the award in 1994 and 1996, where he was beaten to the award by compatriots Emmanuel Amuneke and Nwankwo Kanu respectively.
NOUREDDINE NAYBET (Morocco) – He is one of Africa’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 Egypt’s Afcon triumphs in 1986, 1998 and 2006. He remains the Pharaoh’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 the crown to Kanu Nwankwo (1999) and El Hadji Diouf (2001) following important playing spells at Bayern Munich. In 250 games for Bayern, he won 17 trophies in 12 years and was nominated for the 2001 Ballon d’Or
RIGOBERT SONG (Cameroon) – Song is the only African to have featured in eight Africa Cup of Nations tournament and boasts of the highest 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 d’Ivoire) – A superb finisher per excellence, 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.