Sports News of Saturday, 18 February 2017
1. Didier Drogba: If ever there was a player who dominated in the FA Cup, it was Drogba. The Ivorian has four FA Cup winner’s medals to his name, and demonstrated his exceptional quality by scoring important goals in all four finals. His first medal came in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United after scoring in the dying stages of extra time; the second followed against Everton; third against Portsmouth; and he sealed a record fourth FA Cup in six years by scoring against Liverpool in 2012. He became the only player to score in four consecutive Cup final appearances.
2. George Weah: Weah is an all-time great of African football, and his short time in England was also full of success. The Liberian, who is Africa’s only Ballon d’Or winner, started and played in the 2000 final, the last FA Cup decider to be played at the old Wembley Stadium. Roberto Di Matteo scored to give Chelsea their third FA Cup trophy.
3. Nwankwo Kanu: The Nigerian certainly made his mark on the FA Cup, scoring and assisting in crucial games for both Arsenal and Portsmouth. In the Nigerian’s debut season for the Gunners, he provided an assist for the match-winning goal against Sheffield United in the competition, and although controversy overshadowed that glittering showing, Kanu had already declared his intent on becoming a revered striker at Arsenal. He won the trophy three times, and was also voted as African Player of the Year on two occasions, with his unexpected cup triumph with Pompey among the finest moments in his career.
4. Yaya Toure: Yaya will, without a doubt, go down as one of the most successful African players to ever grace the beautiful game. The Ivorian has had a trophy-laden career, and kicked off his haul in England with the FA Cup trophy in the 2010/11 campaign, scoring the winner against Stoke City. In Europe alone, he has 15 winner’s medals, an incredible feat.
5. Michael Essien was an African legend at Chelsea, enjoying the kind of status in England that few of the continent’s stars could match. The no-nonsense, tough-tackling midfielder was a crucial part of Chelsea’s reign in the 2000s and helped redefine the holding midfield position after Claude Makelele left Chelsea. He will always be remembered for his commitment to the game. The Ghanaian won nine trophies during his time in England: four FA Cups, a Champions League title, two Premier League trophies, a Community Shield and a League Cup.
6. Bruce Grobbelaar: Africa has not produced many goalkeepers who have had as much international success as Grobbelaar. The Zimbabwean keeper was very successful during his time at Liverpool, and in a career that spanned over 600 games, he won six league titles, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a European Cup. He will cherish his 1989 FA Cup medal in particular, as a tribute to the 96 Liverpool fans who were killed in the Hillsborough disaster earlier that season.
7.Kolo Toure: Toure missed out on adding a Europa League winner’s medal to his collection last season after Liverpool succumbed to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Sevilla. However, the Ivorian has been a defensive stalwart in England for more than a decade, winning trophies with Arsenal and Manchester City. He won the FA Cup three times, two with the Gunners and one at City, and enjoyed great success in North London as a member of the 2004 Invincibles squad.
8. John Obi Mikel: After a lengthy transfer debacle, John Obi Mikel joined Chelsea in a £16 million deal back in June 2006. The Nigerian midfielder was a fixture in the Blues side for more than a decade and enjoyed a highly successful time at the London club. Mikel won 11 trophies with the Blues, making him one of the most successful Africans to play in the Premier League. Four of those trophies were FA Cups, and he certainly helped Chelsea become the force they are today.
9. Lauren was an outstanding defender and a crucial member of Arsenal’s Invincibles team that went the entire 2003/04 season unbeaten. The Cameroonian was often referred to as the Gunners’ unsung hero during his time at the club, and walked away with a Premier League double, three FA Cup medals, and two Community Shield trophies. He also enoyed a superb international career with the Indomitable Lions.
10. Salomon Kalou: The Ivorian forward has four FA Cup medals to his name and was a crucial part of the Blues team that dominated England during Jose Mourinho’s first spell at the club. He also played under Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo. These were all successful spells, and in his final season at Chelsea, he won the FA Cup and the Champions League.