Coral’s Premier League era African cult heroes XI
With the Africa Cup of Nations group stage come to an end in Equatorial Guinea, Coral’s football experts began to wonder about some of the greats from that continent that have played Premier League football.
We got our heads together and picked an all-star XI of African cult heroes for you to enjoy and discuss. Do you agree with our selections? Read on and see who’s in:
Goalkeeper: Bruce Grobbelaar (Zimbabwe)
Liverpool legend and shaky legs stopper Grobbelaar is the epitome of a cult hero. Although the bulk of his 440 league games for the Anfield outfit were in the old First Division, he did have two seasons on Merseyside following the formation of the Premier League. He also turned out for Southampton in England’s top-flight (1994-96).
Right back: Lauren (Cameroon)
Best known for a six-season stint at Arsenal, right back Lauren was part of ‘The Invicibles’ side that won the 2003/04 Premier League without losing under Arsene Wenger. Cameroon features heavily in our XI of African cult heroes, and the Indomitable Lions are 10/1 tournament chances to win the Cup of Nations. Lauren also played for Portsmouth (2006-09).
Centre back: Rigobert Song (Cameroon)
Cousin of West Ham United midfield loan star Alex, Rigobert spent time at both Anfield (1998-2000) and Upton Park (2000-01). The elder Song’s massive haul of 137 caps is still an Indomitable Lions record.
Centre back: Lucas Radebe (South Africa)
Nicknamed ‘the Chief’, brilliant Bafana Bafana centre half Radebe is idolised at Leeds United. His status as a cult hero was solidified when he featured in a Head and Shoulders shampoo advert. Radebe blazed this trail now taken up by a certain Joe Hart.
Left back: Celestine Babayaro (Nigeria)
On the books at Chelsea for seven-and-a-half seasons (1997-2005), Babayaro’s raids up the left flank were fabulous prior to Roman Abramovich taking over.
Defensive midfield: Geremi Njitap (Cameroon)
Also capable of playing down the right at full back or on the wing, and at centre half, anchorman Geremi is greatly remembered for a loan spell at Middlesbrough (2002/03). He so impressed at the Riverside that Chelsea came in for him, and he went onto win five major trophies during Jose Mourinho’s first stint at Stamford Bridge. Geremi also crossed the Tyne-Tees divide by subsequently joining Newcastle United.
Right wing: Finidi George (Nigeria)
Ipswich Town pulled off a real coup when they landed winger George in 2001. Although the Tractor Boys were relegated from the top flight in 2002 after amazingly finishing fifth prior to his arrival, he developed a cult following after his earlier exploits in Louis van Gaal’s superb Ajax side in the mid-1990s.
Attacking midfield: Jay-Jay Okocha (Nigeria)
Awesome midfielder Okocha was one of the biggest coups ever landed by Sam Allardyce when he was in charge of Bolton Wanderers. Great goals were always on the cards when he took to the field in Trotters colours (2002-06), and he is not the only star from that vintage which we’ve included here either…
Left wing: El Hadji Diouf (Senegal)
There’s no other figure in our XI that is quite so divisive as Diouf. He started his career in England with Liverpool, and later turned out for Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers but, the infamous spitting incident aside, he is best remembered for his spell at Bolton (2004-08).
Striker: Tony Yeboah (Ghana)
Leeds feature again in our side with Black Stars frontman Yeboah up front. Arriving at Elland Road in January 1995, he averaged almost a goal every other game for the Whites. Ghana are 5/1 tournament third-favourites in Equatorial Guinea.
Striker: Nwankwo Kanu (Nigeria)
This FA Cup winner with both Arsenal and Portsmouth completes our XI. From a trophy-laden spell with the Gunners (1999-2004) to that infamous point-blank miss when at West Bromwich Albion (2004-06), Kanu then stayed at Fratton Park (2006-12) through thick and thin.