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African Players Nominated for the Balon d’Or: Top 10

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The Balon d’Or award is the most prestigious individual award in football. French Magazine France Football has presented the award every year since 1956. The list has been dominated by European players because, for the first 39 years of its existence, they were the only ones eligible for the award. 

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That said, African players have also received numerous nominations. In this article, we’ll list African players nominated for the Balon d’Or.

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Asisat Oshoala

Asisat Oshoala is the only African female footballer to be nominated for the Balon d’Or Award. She had an outstanding season with Barcelona in 2022/23. Oshoala won the Liga Iberdrola, and the Champions League. She scored 20 goals and could have scored more without injury.

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Didier Drogba

African Players Nominated for the Balon d’Or: Top 10
Ivorian player Didier Drogba with the Champions League trophy. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

Didier Drogba is one of the African players nominated for the Balon d’Or. He received eight nominations and received votes with every nomination. The Ivorian won the Champions League and the Premier League with Chelsea. He scooped numerous individual awards like BBC Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the Year.

Finindi George

If there was a year that the Nigerian had a strong case to make, it was 1995. Finindi George won five trophies with Ajax: 

He was among the first Nigerian footballers to receive a Balon d’Or nomination. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for him to trounce George Weah. He got only six votes. After his success in the Netherlands, the Nigerian joined Real Betis in Spain, where he played over 100 games. In total, he played over 200 games in his club career.

George Weah

The former Liberian footballer wasn’t just nominated for the Balon d’Or but is the only one to have won the award. George Weah won the award in 1995 when non-European players were allowed to compete for the Balon d’Or. Weah received 144 votes and beat German player Jurgen Klinsman who only got 108 votes. 

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Mo Salah

African Players Nominated for the Balon d’Or: Top 10
Mo Salah holding the Golden Boot award. Image Source: Instagram  licensed under CC BY 2.0

Salah has been one of the best players in the Premier League in the last five years. He won the Golden Boot, the Premier League, and the Champions League with Liverpool. Salah is a key member of Jurgen Klopp’s side and his individual performances earned him five nominations. He’s on the 2023 shortlist, his fifth consecutive appearance.

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Nwankwo Kanu

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The former Arsenal player was the first Nigerian to receive two Balon d’Or nominations. His first was in 1996, and his second in 1999. Kanu was part of the Nigerian team that won the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

In 1999, he won a couple of awards, including the BBC African Footballer of the Year and the African Footballer of the Year. He got 16 votes, the same as Hernan Crespo and Ronaldo.

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Riyad Mahrez

After a successful year with Leicester in 2016, the Algerian international received numerous awards. He was named the African Footballer of the Year and got his first Balon d’Or nomination. He’s since been nominated three times. 

Mahrez won the treble in 2022/23 with Manchester City and was a crucial Pep Guardiola team member. He left Manchester City for Al Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.

Samuel Eto’o

The Cameroon international received nine nominations for the Balon d’Or award. Even in his peak years, when he won three Champions League titles and multiple league titles, he never came close. 

Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho insists that the Cameroonian should have won the award at least once in his illustrious career.

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Tony Yeboah

The Ghanaian is one of the African players nominated for the Balon d’Or. He competed for the prize against George Weah. Yeboah only got 5 votes. He was one of the best African players of his generation. 

In the 1992/93 and 1993/94 seasons, the forward won the Golden Boot in the Bundesliga. He’s also been nominated for other individual awards like the Ghana Footballer of the Year 1997.

Yaya Toure

One of the best midfielders in the world in his prime, Yaya Toure received nominations for the Balon d’Or award five times. His first came in 2009 after he won the Champions League with Barcelona. A lot of his success came at Manchester City, where he was an integral figure in the team. 

Which African player nominated for the Balon d’Or deserved to win the award? Do you think another African player will ever win the award?  

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