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African Football: 8 African Players Who’ve Won the Champions League


The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious competition in European club football. Many African players in Europe have lifted the title and etched their names in African football history. From Bruce Grobbelaar, who won it when it was referred to as the European Championship Cup, to Abedi Pele, Africans have made their mark in the competition. 

In this article, find out about the African players who’ve won the Champions League. 

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Bruce Grobbelaar – Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean was the first African player to win the Champions League in 1984. At the time, it was called the European Champions Cup and adopted its current name in 1992. He won it with Liverpool, who beat AS Roma in a penalty shootout. He played for the Reds from 1981 to 1994 and won six league titles and three FA Cups. Grobbelaar played over 400 games for Liverpool.

Benni McCarthy – South Africa

Benni is one of South Africa’s greatest footballers. He was the first player from the country and still the only one to win the trophy. Benni was one of Jose Mourinho’s key men. En route to the final, he scored a double against Manchester United. It was a season where Porto pulled one of the biggest surprises in Champions League football history. 

Michael Essien – Ghanaian

The Ghanaian is fondly remembered for his role in the Chelsea midfield after he joined the Blues from French club Lyon. He was a hard tackler and made Jose Mourinho’s midfield tick. Essien played 168 games and netted 17 goals. 

He won the  Champions League in 2011/12 against Bayer Munich. The midfielder was a substitute and didn’t play in the match. Essien also won the Premier League and FA Cup.

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Mohamed Salah – Egypt

African Football: 8 African Players Who’ve Won the Champions League
Mohamed Salah holding the UCL trophy. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Egyptian King was part of the Liverpool team that lifted the 2019 Champions League title in Spain. He scored the game’s opening goal through a penalty kick in the second minute. Salah remains to be a key player in Jurgen Klopp’s team. He’s made 222 appearances since he joined the club in 2017 from AS Roman. Salah’s won the Premier League as well as individual accolades.

Rabah Madjer – Algeria

Rabah Madjer is the only other African player who won the title during its European Championships Cup era. He scored a back-heel goal for Porto against Bayern Munich to win the trophy for the Portuguese side. Madjer played for Porto between 1985 and 1991, made 108 appearances, and scored 50 goals.

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Riyad Mahrez – Algeria

African Football: 8 African Players Who’ve Won the Champions League
Riyard Mahrez posing with the UCL trophy. Image Source: Instagram licensed under CC BY 2.0

In 2022/23, Riyad Mahrez joined a stellar list of African players who’ve won the Champions League. He clinched this with his former club, Manchester City, and completed the treble. 

Mahrez joined the Citizens in 2018 after an incredible season with Leicester City. At City, he played 143 games and scored 43 goals. He was a crucial player in Pep’s team and is now one of the best-ever African players.

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Sadio Mane – Senegal

Sadio Mane was one of Liverpool’s best players under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp. His goal-scoring abilities and positioning on and off the ball made him a nightmare to defend against. He was pivotal in the Red’s win of the Champions League trophy in 2019. He joined Liverpool in 2016 from Southampton and proved why he’s one of Africa’s best players.

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Samuel Eto’o – Cameroon

Eto’o is one of the most decorated African players. He clinched the Champions League title four times with three clubs – Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan

He was vital in Barcelona’s success and, en route, made his own records. He was the second player to score in two finals and the fourth to win two consecutive Champions League titles. 

These African players have hit the heights of European club football. 

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