On Thursday, January 9, 2013; the King of African football will be unveiled at the Eko Convention Centre in Lagos; amongst the trio of Yaya Toure, past winner of the last two editions; his Ivorian counterpart Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel (Nigeria).
From 1992 to 2012, from Ghana’s Abedi Pele to Ivorian Toure, 14 players have laid claim to the most prestigious individual honour in African football. Eto’o has been crowned an unprecedented four times - 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010, whilst Senegalese forward, El Hadji Diouf won the award twice in succession; 2001 and 2002 just as Toure in 2011 and 2012.
Winners of the prestigious honour have come from either the midfield or attack; and that tradition will be respected yet again this year as the contenders are within that scope.
In addition, the 14 players to have been decorated since 1992 had and continue to remain amongst the foremost African ambassadors of the world’s most popular sport.
They are also several others who were closer yet too far, including Ivorian goalkeeper Alain Gouaméné in 1992; Moroccan defender Noureddine Naybet (sixth in 1993); Nigerian Daniel Amokachi regularly featured among the top ten while Chadian Japhet N'Doram was virtually handicapped by the non-presence of his national team at the final phase of a major continental championship. South African defender Mark Fish also settled for sixth position in 1996. Ghanaian defender Samuel Kuffour also narrowly missed out on two occasions, 1999 and 2001.
When the roll call for the laureates is launched, there is one noticeable observation; Nigeria is the country which has the biggest number of laureates with five awards in total, two for Kanu, one each for Emmanuel Amunike, Rashidi Yekini and Victor Ikpeba.
Patrick Mboma won it once coupled with Eto’o’s four-time feat also gives Cameroon five titles, Cote d’Ivoire has four in Drogba (twice) and Toure (twice) whilst Diouf is responsible for the only two titles in the name of Senegal.
One-time winners include Ghana – Abedi Pele, Liberia – George Weah (the only African player to have been crowned FIFA World Footballer of the Year), Morocco – Mustapha Hadji, Mali – Frederic Kanoute and Togo – Emmanuel Adebayor.
Another common feature is that all winners plied their trade in Europe at the time of their coronation.
For the last seven years, the Awards Gala has been sponsored by Cellular Telecommunications outfit, Globacom, who have raised the bar of excellence with splendid ceremonies in cities such as Abuja, Accra, Lome, Lagos and Cairo. This year, the Gala returns to Lagos for the first time since the 2008 edition.
1992 Abedi AYEW PELÉ (Ghana)
1993 Rashidi YEKINI (Nigeria)
1994 Emmanuel AMUNIKE (Nigeria)
1995 George WEAH (Liberia)
1996 Nwankwo KANU (Nigeria)
1997 Victor IKPEBA (Nigeria)
1998 Mustapha HADJI (Morocco)
1999 Nwankwo KANU (Nigeria)
2000 Patrick MBOMA (Cameroon)
2001 El-Hadji DIOUF (Senegal)
2002 El Hadji DIOUF (Senegal)
2003 Samuel ETO'O (Cameroon)
2004 Samuel ETO'O (Cameroon)
2005 Samuel ETO'O (Cameroon)
2006 Didier DROGBA (Côte d’Ivoire)
2007 Frédéric KANOUTE (Mali)
2008 Emmanuel ADEBAYOR (Togo)
2009 Didier DROGBA (Côte d’Ivoire)
2010 Samuel ETO'O (Cameroon)
2011 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)
2012 Yaya TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire)