10 Greatest African Players of All Time

5. Roger Milla (Cameroon)

Roger Milla hit higher heights and here is seen playing football during the 1Goal launch of the Qatar FA project ‘Education at Your Feet’ at the Wanderers in Illovo.

For most players, the mid-thirties are a time of career flux. Having gone through their apprenticeship and learnt the ropes, thirty-something’s usually become frail components of the clubs and country’s they work for. But for Mr. Milla the reverse is true and the closer he edged to his forties, the more he hogged the limelight and became the poster boy of Cameroonian football. Roger Milla who won the best African footballer of the half century award is often ascribed as the encouragement behind modern African football and without doubt a major actor behind Cameroon’s football success story. The heart, soul and essence of the Cameroon sides of the ’80s and ’90s, Milla went on to be named the African Footballer of the 20th Century. Lofty heights for a man, especially considering that the award was earned based on his achievements after reaching the age of 38! As a player, the pedigree and that enviable bit of class was there, but the muse and inspiration was to come much later; at the end, as a matter of truth. Take a moment to mull over the odds of achieving what he did, despite living in and in lieu of a third world nation on the global stage and you’d arrive at the point where you realize Milla has indeed set the standards. At an age where very few can even lace up their boots for one more match, Milla actually dominated the play in an arena where most, if not all, of his teammates and adversaries were at least 10 years his junior…and that stage was the prevalent and biggest of them all. The memories “Sir” Milla left will take far longer to fade. His performance can only be attributed to passion and desire. To this day, the post-goal merriment of his days of glory in Italy is still mimicked. When a celebrant boogies around the corner flag, think of Mr. Milla. Age catches us all, and the last spiteful twist of fate for Roger Milla was that as his career was in its dusk; his country was emerging as a force to be reckoned with in international football. As his footballing aspirations were rising, his abilities to take dribbles at defenders were fading: but his heroics will be forever celebrated as coming in his final days while he was riding off into the sunset. Some footballers are great goalscorers. Others are scorers of great goals. Roger Milla was both.

Club honours: 1972 and 1973 Cameroon League and Cup Champion. 1975 African Cup Winners Cup. 1980 and 1981 French Cup winner. 1987 French second-division champion

Individual
: FIFA 100 Best Players. CAF Best African Player of the last 50 years: 2007. African Footballer of the Year: 1976, 1990. CAF Africa Cup of Nations joint-top scorer: 1984 (four goals), 1986 (four goals). CAF Africa Cup of Nations best player: 1986.

National Honours: CAF Africa Cup of Nations winner: 1984, 1988.

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