Unorthodox: contrary to what is usual, traditional, or accepted; not orthodox. Or, in other words: Thomas Müller.
Müller is somewhat of an enigma. He’s forgotten but he’s there.
You scroll down your football dedicated feed to feast on hours of footage ft. Messi being Messi, Neymar strolling through various French parks completely testing his footballing ability in the world’s most competitive division, Ronaldo nailing spot kicks on the bounce & Lukaku’s wonderful first touch. You never see Thomas. You ask anybody though, and they’ll say Müller is World Class. (Okay, you do see Thomas, but he’s either pretending his passport is a mobile phone or he’s mimicking a kicking horse.)
Müller even escapes selection for dream XI’s both by fans & Pro’s alike. Not mine. He’s first pick. Ice cool. A true fox in the box. A kindred spirit to one Ruud Van Nistelrooy. But why is he so great. How? The man literally looks like an Ostrich both in stature & technique.
Müller just fucking scores goals. He’s just hit 100 in the Bundesliga. Watch the compilation on Youtube. Virtually 100 identical goals. Bundling all 100 over the line from within 12 yards. Rebounds, follow-ups, low crosses, deflected shots, penalties. An absolute weapon in and around the area.
So what? They’re all tap-ins?
No. Look beyond that. For a start, they all count. 100 goals in arguably Europe’s second best league speaks for itself, really. But actually what you have is a real gem. A man who plays the same beautiful game only a few are capable of. An intelligent, one step ahead, crafty bastard. Completely & utterly unorthodox.
His aurora is that of a grinning Ronnie, a mellow Pirlo, a calculated Zizou or a clinical Denny Bergkamp. One of those greats that don’t simply exist in football but well & truly create or shape a role to call their own way beyond their shelf life.
The man literally took the World Cup by storm in 2010. A young, fresh-faced 20-year-old with low slung socks & knobbly knees. (Those who love Müller as much as I will know he was around a little before this – surprisingly Van Gaal the man to thank). Classic German name. Nobody had a fucking clue who this geezer was. Won the golden boot though. Then went on to become a household name amongst Europe’s elite. Still is.
A forgotten Totti – Müller has devoted all of 18 years to Bayern (He’s only 28). A real loyal guy. Plus he seems to like a pint – plenty of pictures doing the rounds of Müller donning lederhosen, chugging down steins of high-grade wheat beer.
Look further beyond – see Müller as the person. Always grinning. A real ambassador for the sport. A proper role model. He’s the reason your dad goes to the German Christmas Markets every year. “Will that Müller bloke be there?”
Even further beyond & see Muller the style icon. Old school low socks, short shorts, no-nonsense German working class haircut. The poster boy for any German World Cup campaign. BE LIKE THOMAS MÜLLER.
So, here’s to you, Thomas. Congrats on the century. Raise a stein to 100 more, you crafty, wonderful, unorthodox goal getter.
Last summer I went to Medellin for a week since I had just bought a new camera and absolutely loved Narcos.
The fact that my girlfriend cheated on me, allowing my mental health to reach its absolute abyss and me wanting to ”find myself” on a 2-month drug-laden trip in South America had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Medellin is called ”The City of Eternal Spring” and that slogan alone should make you want to pack your bags. You lot can have summer, I’m all for spring. And Medellin embodies spring. Spring is about anticipation. Excitement. Resurrection. Wearing your freshly bought spring trainers for the first time. It’s about showing off your new Adidas Gazelles to the cute barista (whose freckles are starting to show) at the local Starbucks. Getting rejected.
Not that you give two fucks. It’s spring. You’re immortal!
Medellin is struggling to fight off its reputation of being a dangerous city, but it’s certainly not struggling to show the opposite – if you actually go there. The city is located in a valley with steep hills and mountains surrounding the city centre, making it really hard for the poor population who live in the mountain barrios to access the city centre. This caused the city to invest in a ”Metrocable” (a shit load of gondolas connected to the metro system) that’s running up and down the hillsides for tourists to easily access the diverse and lush barrios, and most importantly, connecting all Medellin inhabitants.
Football is everywhere in the city. It’s painted on the walls and played in the streets. Its shouted from the bars. So obviously I had to attend a football game since the city hosts two major teams; Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellin. They both share this magnificent 41 000 seated stadium that just oozes South America. The round shaped stands, the cracked cement, scary ass policemen that possibly have been instructed to beat the shit out of you, stray dogs (I always wondered why dogs are such a common type of pitch invader in South America. Turns out the stadiums are their home), 1,50 dollar beers and ultras staring at you with olive-sized pupils and gurning jaws.
Independiente Medellin, the footballing underdog in comparison to the bigger brother Atlético, played against Deportivo Cali in the quarter-finals of the Colombian Primera A when I was in town. Right up my alley. I never knew what it is like to support a winning team anyway. Then I heard that Pablo Escobar was buried with an I.M. flag wrapped around his torso, and it was settled. This was my South American team!
I hopped on the surprisingly modern and clean metro (it makes the metro of my hometown Stockholm look like absolute shit) down to the Atanasio Girardot Stadium to enjoy some Colombian football madness. I purchased a bootleg match jersey, some pork arepas and a well chilled Aguila (fuck right off Carlsberg, Aguila is the best beer in the world) from a street salesman. He insisted on me buying the jersey since ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” if I didn’t wear the home team colours. I took his advice, kindly rejected the cocaine he insisted on me buying since, again, ”the fans will fucking kill you, amigo” and entered the stadium.
The game ended 3-1 to my beloved new team. Unfortunately, Cali had won 4-1 at their place for the first leg of the quarter-finals, so I.M. got knocked out. I still enjoyed the game though. I tricked a steward into thinking I was a photographer by saying ”Soy un fotografero” and waving my camera in his face and got full access to the absolute madhouse of a stadium it was.
It’s well satisfying to watch a goalkeeper look completely humiliated. Hundreds of
ways to do it – all displayed in textbook style by Il Fenomeno during a 10 minute
YouTube compilation to the soundtrack of a Russian dance banger. If given one last opportunity to see some top class Keeper shaming, I’d make a beeline for the Chip. Cheeky, arrogant & outright humiliating for the Keeps. All forms of the finish –fucking great. I get giddy just thinking about a clipped finish. My mates know me well. Over a few pints, game on, we see a dinked finish – “one for you that, lad”. I grin. I fucking love it. I’m not fussy either. Any style of chip. Hit from distance, ball well above the Keeps’ head, backpedalling. Striker wheeling off – Sheareresque with a single limb in the air before the ball even arrives home. Keeper, jaw to the floor, complete disbelief. Keeper falls into the netting. Bliss.
Latching onto a through ball. Keeper flying out. Slight angle. Keeps goes to
ground to steal the ball. No. Striker clips it. Up & over. Lands right into the bottom
corner. (Bounce before net entry optional). Keeper rolls onto his back in
embarrassment. Hasn’t even checked to see if it’s a goal. The sound of the crowd tells
him all he needs to know.
Here’s my favourite. The chance can arrive from a mazy run or a beauty of a through ball. Striker bearing down on goal. Ball glued to feet. A Western showdown. Keeper, determined not be embarrassed, holds firm. Fills the space. Broad shoulders. Takes a knee to make a block. Striker lofts the ball. This time not over the head, but over the shoulder. Keeper literally watches the ball past his face & into the net. Add defenders into the mix. Even better when the defender thinks he can get there but is always a yard too slow. I love goalkeepers. Totally underrated tradesmen, they are. A boss save is just as satisfying as a 30-yard screamer. Not a chip though. Nothing against Neuer & the boys – but in this instance, your pain is the world’s pleasure, & I have a front-row seat.
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: On the bounce, rooted keeper, defenders lobbed on
the line, off the woodwork & lobs that don’t actually come down until they roll down
I could’ve done a favourite 100.
Pires v Southampton
Proper lob. Classic FIFA 2002 when the cross button was actually called “Lob”.
Side foot, a bit of whip, classic backpedalling. Completes the hattrick. Typically
Lampard v Barcelona
Oh, Frankie Boy. Our very own. Our Frankie. Tight angle. Massive game. CROSS
IT TO DROGBA. The voice of ‘Arry Redknapp in Frank’s ear – “Go on, son. Have
a go. He’s off his line. Go where Niko & Crouchie have never gone before”. Lamps
chip it from virtually the byline & into the far side netting. Lovely stuff.
Messi v Bayern
Model chip. Just watch it. Embarrassed defenders, a classic Western showdown with Neuer. Over the shoulder. Lands flush in the bottom corner. I will say no more.
Totti v Inter
The master of chips, Totti is. It’s a non-argument. He has an 8-minute compilation
of the stuff. Christmas day every time I watch it. This one just epitomises how
easy he found the trade. Jogs through the middle. Looks up. Feints to lash it. Clips
it from 20 plus yards. The keeper dives backwards – still, acres from the ball – & in it
Bergkamp V Leverkeusen
He even slips & still pulls off an ice cool lob. Doesn’t even celebrate. TOTAAL
The chip is a delightful aspect of the game and, when utilised correctly, can dazzle every fan watching.
The man to define my near quarter century as an England fan.
We’ve been here plenty of times before. Get them on the plane. Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, David Nugent, Darius Vassell. They’ll offer something different. Bring them on with the half hour to go. “This’ll baffle ‘em lads – Emile, get warmed up!”.
It’s caused some huge debate over the years with Three Lion’s fanatics down the local boozer – who should fill that fourth striker position for the Summer of Hope. “FRANNY JEFFERS” was probably the worst shout – although he does have a 100% goals to game ratio in the England White.
Disappointment is something we’re all used to as England fans post ’66. However, I’ll always remember the first time I was well & truly disappointed. It was the summer of Darius. Five foot Seven Darius & half of the Midlands behind him.
France 98 (belter) & Japan/Korea 02 (also belter) were my earliest encounters of International football. (No idea where I was for the Millennium Euros – but that France team was glorious). Both disappointing as per the usual England protocol but for ’98 I was four & literally couldn’t comprehend anything I was seeing beyond Marcel Desailly’s absolute chill in those Predators & the glorious FujiFilm advertising boards. As for 2002 I was busy getting away with an R9 trademark semi-circle fringe at school & not actually being a) sent home & b) embarrassed. To be honest you could not be disheartened after losing to that Brazil squad. Don’t worry David, I wouldn’t have saved that either.
So up to press, I had been fairly content with England’s showings on the international stage.
The Euro’s. The Golden Generation. A perfect chance to prove we can obliterate Europe & take on those pesky South American’s in Germany in a couple of years. Untypically optimistic as I had not faced the heartbreak of my senior England supporters. Also, in-form Villa Marksman Darius has made the exclusive strikers club! Wayne, Emile & Michael with open arms – “big up Vass, welcome to the goal show”.
I’ve had many debates with the same Man Blue fan for years about Darius. I’m not sold. He is. He loves him. He shows me the same grainy footage on YouTube every time we have this drunken debate of Vassell illegally obstructing the ball between his feet before doing a backwards roll away from confused Fulham defenders. Granted, if I had seen Robbie Fowler do that I would be in awe. But not Darius.
We get through the group stages relatively easily. Plus, we treated the neutrals to a fucking glorious first fixture against France. Not so glorious for Beckham & co (Becks now sporting a classic number 1 that Ross Kemp would give a reassuring nod to – even in the most hostile of gang territories) as we went down cruelly to a Zidane fest in the closing of the game – but nonetheless a cracking tie. That’s the thing with our lot. We put a show on for other countries. Such a selfless nation we are. A golden generation of players, unselfishly choosing to notturn up to big tournaments. Give Spain & Italy a chance – those lads are having a dry spell.
What happened next was about to set me up for every single international fixture I would ever watch in my England Whites. Cue Barry who works down the Red Lion ranting in the pisser:
Portugal. Fucking Portugal. Sandwiched between Portugal victories in 2000 & 2006. Our very own Bolton to Arsene Wenger. Bottom 3 sides to Liverpool. Legitimate goals to Pele. A thorn in our side.
For starters, Sol Campbell (who 100% had his fair share of emotional disappointment during his career) climbed well above everybody to legally head the ball into the well tight, fucking mega green/black netting *note – the nets were pleasing, but how beautiful was that ball* only for it to be cruelly disallowed. Still not over that.
That was disappointment number one. Still not onto Darius.
Then obviously Portugal took a 2 – 1 lead with 10 minutes of extra time to play – albeit that goal from Cult hero Rui Costa was some effort. A quick turnaround though. England gets our hopes up again – we will not be beaten! Frankie Lampard swivels in the box from a peak John Terry knockdown to get us right back into the game. Surely there will be no more upset. We’ve even put Darius on for the pennos because he’s ice cold from 12 yards. Our wildcard. Our saviour. The Midlands Marksman.
Wrong. Penalties. Beckham. Well over. Blames spot. Back to reality. But again our hopes are raised as the shootout levels itself. One pen each before sudden death. Ricardo’s gone rogue. Gloveless. No man’s land for Darius’ soon to be a goal-bound penalty. Oh, Darius. Saved. Could happen to anybody. Still, you’re my scapegoat for this tournament exit. Ricardo then remains gloveless to smash the winning penalty beyond a helpless Jammo.
Darius was plan B. England’s fourth striker. The one we all secretly hope turns up & unpredictably lights up the tournament. In reality, this is never going to happen. But this tournament & Darius Vassell ultimately showed me the “England fan ropes” in which we look for a reason we can achieve before realising when it all goes horribly wrong that this reason was actually a load of bollocks – See Harry Kane, England’s new corner taker/Steve McClaren, we WILL qualify.
Now it was far from Darius’ fault we left the Euros. But he will forever in my mind be the reason England are shit. He is the reason we only put three past Andorra. He is the reason I now approach every single England game with the same “I told you so” attitude when we inevitably cock up.
Still. We’re gonna’ win the World Cup. It’s coming home.
Kieran Brown is a football YouTuber with exceptional freestyle skills and is an insane talent with the ball. A series he does on his incredibly popular YouTube channel is ‘Football Experiments’ where he has produced a gummy bear ball and a rubber band ball and proceeds to freestyle with these. This time, it’s the turn of the Dollar Bill ball. Check it, it’s lit:
One of the goals of this website is to shine a light on aspects of football that don’t get the recognition they may deserve. This is the first interview, a Q&A session, on the site. We conducted this over email and the answers provided have given us a beautiful insight into Caribbean football, increasing our knowledge and hopefully yours, too.
One of the main things we want to achieve with this site is to a spotlight onto certain football cultures that aren’t mainstream. Why does the Caribbean offer something special which people can get on board with?
I think part of Caribbean football’s allure is that it’s a bit of an exotic mystery. I’ve been following it for nearly five years and there is still an awful lot to discover. It’s kind of within its own little world but there are some fascinating stories attached which are so interesting to learn about. I love following these smaller islands like Montserrat, Anguilla and Sint Maarten, exploring the social and human side of football in these places and bringing stories to life. I dedicate a lot of my spare time to Caribbean football because I’m passionate about it, I want it to grow and for more people to take it seriously. It’s not for everyone, sure. But the Caribbean is a fascinating, vibrant and often misunderstood part of the planet. I personally believe that Caribbean football can become a real power in the future. If you’re reading this, then why not try to catch a game sometime and you never know, you might just get hooked just as I did as a 15-year-old.
Is there any bright talent coming from the Caribbean that we could expect to see in some of the bigger leagues in years to come?
There are several up-and-coming teenagers who are still playing in their respective countries and surely it won’t be too long before they earn a professional contract abroad. Below is merely a selection.
Alex Marshall | 18 | Jamaica. A left-footed winger/attacking midfielder. One of the biggest stars of schoolboy football in Jamaica. Recently went on trial at German club St Pauli.
Keston Julien | 17 | Trinidad & Tobago. A left-back. Very impressive at last year’s CONCACAF U-17 Championship and recently went on trial at AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands.
Jabari Mitchell | 19 | Trinidad & Tobago. An attack-minded central midfielder. Captain of the national U-20 team and recently went on trial at Boavista in Portugal.
Javorn Stevens | 18 | Antigua & Barbuda. A striker. Captain of the national U-20 team and already capped at senior level. Very highly thought of in Antigua & Barbuda.
Nyrone Winter | 17 | Saint Lucia. A winger who can also play up front. Has won the Saint Lucian Junior Footballer of the Year award on two occasions. Currently on a two-week stint in England where he’s going to be training with both Preston North End and Bradford City.
Ronaldo Damus | 16 | Haiti. A striker. Made his senior debut against Costa Rica on Friday night. First came onto the scene at last year’s CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
Mackenson Cadet | 16 | Turks & Caicos Islands. Highly rated midfielder who plays for the National Academy in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Went on trial at Nottingham Forest in 2015.
There is plenty of good if a little raw, talent in the Caribbean but there aren’t always the structures in place to maximise that talent. There aren’t always the opportunities for talented youngsters to show what they can do on a bigger stage. That is beginning to change slowly but surely. If you haven’t already, feel free to check out CaribYoungStars, a project profiling the brightest young talent in Caribbean football that I inaugurated last year.
In your opinion, who would you say is the best talent to come from the Caribbean?
It’s too hard to narrow it down to specifically one player. You can’t ignore Lilian Thuram who comes from Guadeloupe. Then there’s Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids who both come from Suriname. Raheem Sterling comes from Jamaica. Trinidad & Tobago’s Dwight Yorke has to rank up there purely for what he achieved at Manchester United. His compatriot, Russell ‘Little Magician’ Latapy, was arguably more gifted but never truly fulfilled his potential in Europe. Bermuda’s Clyde Best deserves a mention as does Haiti’s Emmanuel Sanon. Curacao’s Ergilio Hato was an unbelievably good goalkeeper in the 1940s/50s and could have easily starred in Europe but he turned down the likes of Real Madrid and Ajax to stay locally with his family. The fact is that the Caribbean has contributed significantly to world football whether directly or indirectly because the diaspora is so vast. Yet, unfortunately, the region doesn’t always receive the recognition it warrants.
What are the views on football in the Caribbean? Of course, you have places such as Brazil and Argentina where it is basically a religion.
Football is generally very popular but has always had to battle against the colonial legacy of cricket and also track + field which is firmly ingrained in many sporting cultures across the islands. In the Anglophone Caribbean, cricket probably edges football in terms of popularity. But that’s not to say that in places such as Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago football isn’t taken seriously because it is. In the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, baseball tends to be the number one sport because of past American influences on Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. There are many Dominican baseball stars who play in the United States, for example. In the French-speaking and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, football ranks as the number one sport. I think that many Caribbean people look at football as an art form, a way of expressing themselves. I believe there is a culture, though, which lends heavy focus to the individual and how the individual entertains the crowd with the ball over the collective context of the team, which has its positives and negatives. Scrimmage (small-sided football using reduced space) is widely played across the islands, particularly in Jamaica. Caribbean fans in general are very passionate and demanding – mistakes tend to be scrutinised and immediate success is the goal. The passion definitely shines through, though.
Out of the international teams, which team offers the highest quality football and has the better chance of causing an upset against some of the bigger international teams?
The traditional top four is Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti and Cuba – the only Caribbean countries to have gone to the World Cup finals. Out of those Trinidad & Tobago are currently playing the best football and will be the Caribbean’s only representative at the Hexagonal which begins in November later this year. But what we have seen in recent times is the growth of other nations such as Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Martinique, Antigua & Barbuda, Curacao, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, Suriname, Grenada, Guyana and the Dominican Republic who are challenging the upper bracket of Caribbean international teams. I think Curacao have a very interesting project going on and they’ve been assisted by the expertise of Patrick Kluivert, whose mother comes from the island. Saint Kitts & Nevis are a rising force and the head coach Jacques Passy is doing a stellar job there. There is always scope for an upset or for the underdog to triumph; we’ve seen that time and time again in football. As former Trinidad & Tobago manager Leo Beenhakker once said: “In football, 2 and 2 is almost never 4. Most of the time it is 3 or 5.”
Now, I want to get your thoughts on Jack Warner and co and their involvement in Caribbean football and Trinidad and Tobago itself. How have they and their actions influenced the game in these places?
We have to remember that Jack Warner presided over Caribbean football for 28 years. He called the shots for nearly three decades. So the decisions that he made have undeniably had a direct influence on the Caribbean game and how it is today. Warner causes division in his native Trinidad & Tobago – some people believe he changed things for the better and others believe he changed things for the worse. For me, some of Warner’s traits are a microcosm of what is wrong in Caribbean football administration. This doesn’t apply to everybody but I feel a lot of the time people at the top are only looking after themselves. They are taking care of their ego and making selfish decisions instead of making decisions on behalf of the betterment of football. Caribbean football administrators need to realise and appreciate that they are in a privileged position of authority and responsibility. With this comes power which shouldn’t be abused for personal gain. Caribbean football needs leadership. Not dictatorship. They are two very different things.
A very interesting look into Caribbean football and what a new watcher can expect. It also gives us aspects to look out for. Thanks to Nathan Carr of The Home Of Caribbean Football for answering our questions. You can check his site out here: thehomeofcaribbeanfootball.com
An XI purely from Africa but with a stipulation: each nation can only be used once. So no partnership of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba up front, no Yaya Toure and Didier Drogba in the same team. A tough one but a good one.
This is a team which will most likely cause disagreements throughout due to the country restrictions. One player from each country but of course, not every country will be used. The formation we have decided on is 3-4-3, an attacking formation but we thought, why not be daring when this team won’t be playing against anyone?
Goalkeeper: Bruce Grobbelaar [Zimbabwe]
A 32-time capped Zimbabwe international, this South African born goalkeeper makes it between the sticks for TCD’s African XI. Forget the match fixing allegations of 1994, this keeper was solid between the sticks for Liverpool most notably but featured for 17 clubs in total and was a part of 19 (he didn’t feature for Oxford United or Sheffield Wednesday). A three time FA Cup winner along with one European Cup, his place is cemented in net.
Centre-Back: Mehdi Benatia [Morocco]
A solid centre half, once of AS Roma but now on loan at Juventus from parent club FC Bayern. He made 80 appearances for Udinese before moving to Roma where he made 30. A two time Bundesliga winner alongside a DFB Pokal, Benatia is a good defender. A Moroccan international, he ticks another nation off the list.
Centre-Back: Lucas Radebe [South Africa]
Winning the National Soccer League twice with Kaiser Chiefs in the consecutive years of 1991 and 1992 then moving onto Leeds United where he was a Champions League semi-finalist and won Player of the Year in 1998. He recieved a FIFA Fair Play award for his contribution to ridding the game of racism. A notable achievement was when a Leeds brewery asked for name suggestions for a new beer, ‘Radebeer’ was voted favourite showing their admiration for the South African.
Centre-Back: Chancel Mbemba [Congo]
An inclusion that most people will be like ‘what the fuck?’ but one I feel, as a Newcastle fan and due to the restrictions, is a fair one. Sami Kuffour misses out due to the nation restrictions but Mbemba is one who is an adequate replacement. A very solid defender from the Congo, no-one knows his age but I know that he is an excellent defender. The man turned up with a tuxedo on for his first home game at Newcastle…suave.
Winger: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang [Gabon]
He once wore £2,500 crystalised boots when warming up at Saint Ettiene and scored 29 goals in 54 goals before moving to Borussia Dortmund where he has netted 56 goals in 95 (and counting). A front flip celebrator, the pacey attacker was the African Footballer of the Year in 2015 alongside BVB’s top goalscorer two years running (2014-2016).
Central Midfielder: Michael Essien [Ghana]
The Bison. On-field forcefulness and prowess gave him this nickname and he has been one of the best midfielders to come from Africa in football. Essien has won the Premier League twice whilst playing for Chelsea along with a Champions League win in 2012. In terms of individual honours, he was included in the African Cup of Nations ‘Team of All Tournaments’ and was BBC African Player of the Year in 2006.
Central Midfielder: Seydou Keita [Mali] Starting his career in Marseille, the Mali international was mostly known for his stints at Lens, Sevilla and FC Barcelona. During his first season at Barcelona, the Catalan club won the treble. Keita scored a hat-trick over Zaragoza in 2009 and made more appearances than any outfield player in 2010-11 for Barcelona. A three time La Liga winner, two time Champions League winner and two third place positions in the AFCON, Keita is an inclusion based on my personal preference but also because he has done a lot in football. A hero of mine.
Winger: Jay-Jay Okocha [Nigeria] ‘He’s so good they named him twice’ was a chant sang during his time at Bolton Wanderers. Okocha was a very skillful player and adopted the step-over, making it his own before a certain Cristiano Ronaldo came along. When playing for Eintract Frankfurt, he scored a goal that had Oliver Khan diving about all over the place due to his twists and turns. When at Fenerbache, he scored 30 goals in 62 appearances and many of them came from set pieces. This was something he became known for at the Turkish club. PSG signed him for £14m and he became the most expensive African player at the time. He won Nigerian Footballer of the Year 6 times between 1995 and 2005 and won the AFCON with Nigeria in 1994.
Striker: George Weah [Liberia]
A player everyone knew would be included. Probably the greatest talent to come out of Africa, the AS Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and AC Milan legend is one of the first names on the team sheet. He combined physical attributes with technique, skill and finishing ability to become one of the best players in the world. Despite the controversy of him breaking Jorge Costa’s nose in the tunnel over racism allegations, he won the FIFA Fair Play Award the same year but that wasn’t the most notable award. Weah grabbed the FIFA World Player of the Year Award in 1995 and the Ballon D’Or the same year. He was the first native African to win these awards.
Striker: Didier Drogba [Ivory Coast]
Of course the Ivorian is included, how could we leave him out? A Premier League, and football-in-general. legend. Hated by many, admired by most throughout his time playing for Chelsea. No-one can deny how influential he was as a striker for Chelsea with his prowess being huge upfront. He score over 150 goals for Chelsea where he played for ten years after moving from Marseille where he scored 32 in 55. Not only has he scored this many at club level, he scored 63 in 104 for Ivory Coast. A four time Premier League champion and a massive role in Chelsea’s Champions League glory of 2012 scoring the winning penalty, he leads the line for this XI or it would be a ‘fucking disgrace’ eh, Didier?
Striker: Samuel Eto’o [Cameroon] Samuel Eto’o is one of the most profilic strikers in the game’s history when in his prime. 129 goals in 201 appearances at Barcelona and a further 53 in 101 at Inter, he is one of the best strikers the game has seen. He was 1/3 of one of the best trios in history which featured himself, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry who score over 100 goals together in a single campaign. Eto’o has won La Liga three times, the Champions League three times, a Scudetto, the AFCON twice, an Olympic Gold Medal and the African Player of the Year four times. He is also Cameroon’s top goalscorer.
Manager: Stephen Keshi The rule doesn’t apply here. The Nigerian won the AFCON both as a manager and a player and was given African Manager of the Year in 2013. We were deeply saddened by the news of his passing, our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest In Peace.
The kit worn by South Africa on their return to the African Cup of Nations following their 34 year ban from the tournament and a non-qualifying campaign the tournament before they were crowned champions in 1996. A beautiful gold, black and green kit worn with pride by the nation and Nelson Mandela himself.
The kit worn in Nigeria’s first ever World Cup in 1994. They topped their group of Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece before being knocked out in the quarters by a Roberto Baggio double. A very beautiful kit whether it be with green shorts or not.
A very tough task deciding this XI, especially with the nation restrictions in place. This team is a solid team with a lot of attacking firepower. Maybe the tactic is to outscore opponents rather than keep them out? Well with that defence and Essien and Keita holding, anything is possible. Let us know who we should include, who we shouldn’t have included and any complaints you have in the comments below.