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Africa's shining stars in UEFA club football

ESPN - Thursday 14th September, 2017

The group stages of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League start this week, and Africa will again be well represented in both competitions.

It is a good time, therefore, for KweséESPN to reflect on who have been Africa's top achievers in the European competitions, from most appearances and most goals, to other weird and wonderful records.

MOST APPEARANCES IN UEFA CLUB FOOTBALL

113 - SAMUEL ETO'O (CAMEROON) Played for: Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona, Internazionale, Anji, Chelsea, Everton No African player has appeared in more UEFA club competition games than Eto'o, who could conceivably still add to his tally as he is still playing in Turkey with Antalyaspor. Ironically, for a player so closely tied to Barcelona, he made his debut for Real Madrid and later featured in the Champions League with unfancied Mallorca. He lifted the elite competition title with Barca (twice) and Inter Milan, among a host of other honours in his stellar career.

111 - SEYDOU KEITA (MALI) Played for: Marseille, Lens, Sevilla, Barcelona, Valencia, Roma Keita has most recently been playing in the Asian Champions League with Qatar side El-Jaish, but is best remembered for winning the European version twice with Barcelona. He also lifted the UEFA Super Cup with Sevilla and Barca, and in all represented six teams in UEFA club competitions. The dynamic midfielder pitched in with his fair share of goals overs the years as well, some of them crucial in bringing success to his teams.

102 - DIDIER DROGBA (IVORY COAST) Played for: Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray Drogba is still playing in the USA for Phoenix Rising at the age of 39, but the chances of him ever adding to his tally of UEFA club competition appearances are virtually nil. Drogba enjoyed most of his trophy success at English giants Chelsea, where he spent nine seasons in two spells, including helping the London club to the Champions League trophy in the 2011/12 campaign. He also played for French side Marseille and Turkish outfit Galatasaray in European club competition.

90 - SAMMY KUFFOUR (GHANA) Played for: Bayern Munich, Roma, Livorno Defender Kuffour is best known for his 12-year stay with German side Bayern Munich, where he won the Champions League in the 2000/01 season, having as finished runner-up two years before in THAT dramatic defeat to Manchester United. He also won six Bundesliga titles and was a hugely popular player at Bayern, before leaving for Italian side Roma in 2005. He later had a loan spell at Serie A side Livorno, who he represented in the now defunct UEFA Cup in the 2006/07 season.

90 - KOLO TOURE (IVORY COAST) Played for: Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Celtic Toure made the last of his 90 appearances just last season when he turned out for Glasgow Celtic against in a 2-0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, and has subsequently retired. Months before he had turned out for Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League final as they lost 3-1 to Spanish side Sevilla, meaning he would finish his career without a European club trophy. He also played for Arsenal in the Champions League decider in 2005/06, but they were beaten by Barcelona. Kolo's brother Yaya, who plays for Manchester City, is just four appearances behind him on the all-time African list.

MOST GOALS IN UEFA CLUB FOOTBALL

50 - DIDIER DROGBA (IVORY COAST) Played for: Marseille, Chelsea, Galatasaray Drogba is the only African player to score 50 goals in UEFA club competition, having averaged almost a goal every other game through his career. The vast majority came for Chelsea, but he netted five for Marseille and three for Galatasaray. His goal against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final in 2012 is perhaps his most treasured as it secured a 1-1 draw, with The Blues winning on post-match penalties.

48 - SAMUEL ETO'O (CAMEROON) Played for: Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona, Internazionale, Anji, Chelsea, Everton Eto'o will be hoping for one last season to be able to overhaul Drogba at the top of the list, but he needs to help current club Antalyaspor qualify for the UEFA club competitions first. His maiden goal in Europe came for Mallorca against Hajduk Split in 2001, and his last for Everton against FK Krasnodar in the Europa League in 2014.

35 - GEORGE WEAH (LIBERIA) Played for: Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan Weah is regarded as arguably the greatest African footballer -- certainly of the last three decades -- and he was a prolific scorer for just about every side he played for. He failed to lift a European club trophy, but found plenty of domestic success with French Ligue 1 sides Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, and Italian giants AC Milan. He was also a regular scorer for all three on the continent, later also playing for Chelsea, Manchester City and Marseille.

32 - BENNI MCCARTHY (SOUTH AFRICA) Played for: Ajax Amsterdam, Celta Vigo, FC Porto, Blackburn Rovers McCarthy memorably helped unfashionable FC Porto to the UEFA Champions League title under Jose Mourinho in 2004. His most famous goals came in the second round when he bagged a brace against Manchester United that set up a 3-2 aggregate win. McCarthy also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup with Spanish side Celta Vigo, and featured in European club competition with Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam and English side Blackburn Rovers.

31 - FREDERIC KANOUTE (MALI) Played for: Lyon, Sevilla Although he featured for Lyon early in his career, Kanoute's UEFA club competition exploits are best remembered with Spanish side Sevilla, who he helped to two UEFA Cup titles in 2006 and 2007. He scored in both of those finals and grabbed six goals in all in 2006 to finish just one off the leading scorer that year, Basel's Argentine forward Matías Delgado. Kanoute was born in France and played junior football for that country, but is also remembered as a deadly striker for Mali, netting 23 goals in 35 caps for the country.

OTHER FACTS ABOUT AFRICANS IN UEFA COMPETITIONS

Waiting to break their duck Botswana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mauritania, Seychelles, Sudan and South Sudan are the only African nations never to have had a player feature in UEFA club competitions.

Super Seven The seven clubs that Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o has played for -- Real Madrid, Mallorca, Barcelona (all Spain), Internazionale (Italy), Anji (Russia), Chelsea and Everton (both England) -- is the most by an African player.

Walk like an Egyptian Egypt star Mohammed Salah is only 25, but this season featured for his fifth team in UEFA club football when he turned out for Liverpool in the Champions League qualifiers. Other clubs are Basel (Switzerland), Chelsea (England), Fiorentina and Roma (both Italy). He has made 53 appearances to date, the most by an Egyptian.

One-club man The player with the most appearances having played for just one club in the UEFA club competitions is retired Ugandan defender Ibrahim Sekagya, who made 46 appearances for Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg between 2007 and 2012.

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