The BBC African Sports Star of the Year began in 1992; later it became known as the BBC African Sports Personality of the Year, and then became the BBC African Footballer of the Year. The latter award ran until 2018 after which it was decided to change the awards back to their intended purpose by reflecting the balance between gender, disability and variety of sports on offer.
Following the re-launch of BBC African Sports Personality of the Year, BBC Sport looks at the previous winners of both this all-sport award as well as the BBC African Footballer of the Year trophy.
The 1992 winner was Ghanaian footballer Abédi Pelé – Ghana and Marseille – who won the Champions League with Marseille, beating Milan in the 1993 final.
In 1993 Namibian Frankie Fredericks became the first athlete to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award after competing at that the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart.
April 1993 was a very sad time for the Zambian people after a plane crash in in which 18 Zambian footballers were killed. However, in 1994 the Zambian football squad overcame adversity and reached the Nations Cup final by winning the prestigious BBC Award.
In 1995 Liberian George Weah became the only African to be named World and European Footballer of the Year, on top of this BBC Award.
1996 saw Nigerian Emmanuel Amuneke, who played for both Portugal and Spain, winning the BBC Award after Nigeria won Africa’s first Olympic football gold medal and Amuneke’s playing every game in this tournament.
Nigerian Nwankwo Kanu, who also played for Inter Milan, received the BBC’s Award in 1997. Kanu missed the previous football season due to his having successful surgery for a hole in his heart. His strength of character and determination were paramount for his winning the award.
The 1998 BBC winner was Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie who won the 10,000 metres World Championship title four times between 1993-1999; and who then broke the world records in both the 5,000m and 10,000m.
Nwankwo Kanu from Nigeria and Arsenal (which he joined in February 1999) had a second win from BBC in 1999. Kanu scored a 17-minute hat trick at Chelsea in his first year with Arsenal.
In 2000 Patrick Mboma, the Cameroon captain who also played for Cagliari/Parma, won the last BBC award African Sports Personality of the Year, after which the award had a name change to African Footballer of the Year. In this same year Cameroon won its first Nations Cup title in 12 years, as well as an Olympic Gold medal.
Ghanaian Samuel Kuffour won 16 major titles during his time with Bayern Munich and in 2001 he was awarded the prestigious BBC Award. In his own words, “To be voted the BBC African Footballer of the Year is not an easy thing and it’s a great opportunity for me”, he told the BBC. “This award is for the whole African continent”.
In 2002 El Hadji Diouf from Senegal and Lens and Liverpool showed his exceptional talents when Senegal stunned defending champions France at the 2002 World Cup.
Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha‘s first season at Bolton Wanderers earned him the 2003 BBC award according to the Bolton coach, Sam Allardyce, who praised his “outstanding abilities”.
2004 proved to be a double title win for Jay-Jay Okocha when he retained the trophy he won in 2003. This was the year in which he scored the 1,000th goal in Nations Cup history and assumed the captaincy of this team. “I never thought I could win it again this year,” Okocha told BBC Sport. “I appreciate this one more because it’s been more difficult to retain the award and I’ve put in a lot of hard work to see that I retain it. I’m very happy I accomplished it and I appreciate all the people who voted”.
Mohamed Barakat from Egypt and Al Ahly was part of the Al Ahly team that achieved a world record of 55 unbeaten games in 2005. In this year Barakat became the first North African to etch his name on the BBC African Footballer of the Year trophy.
In 2006, the year in which Ghana debuted at the World Cup, Ghanaian Michael Essien became what was then the most expensive African footballer when signing for Chelsea for £24.4m in August 2005. His exceptional qualities earned him the 2006 BBC trophy.
Emmanuel Adebayor from Togo and Arsenal won the BBC trophy in 2007. He was rewarded for his excellent performances in May 2007 against Manchester United and AC Milan with a news long term deal.
In 2008 Egyptian Mohamed Aboutrika, playing for Al Ahly, celebrated Egypt’s becoming the 2008 Nations Cup champions. Regarded as one of the finest footballers to ever grace Africa, Aboutrika scored the only goal of the Nations Cup final against Cameroon and was a worthy recipient of the BBC award that year.
In 2009 Ivorian Didier Drogba led Chelsea to win the FA Cup and he also scored the goal that took Ivory Coast to the World Cup that year. On the international scene, he secured qualification for the Ivory Coast at the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup finals.
In 2010 Asamoah Gyan from Ghana and Sunderland scored three of Ghana’s four goals as the four-time African champions reached their first Nations Cup final in 18 years, ultimately losing out to Egypt. Despite this loss, Gyan clinched the BBC title. “I’m so happy, I can’t believe it. I’m so thankful to all the fans who voted for me. It was really hard to win this award, especially because of all the other players I was up against”.
In 2011 Andre (‘Dede’) Ayew from Ghana and Marseille won the award that his father Abédi Pelé won in 1992, becoming the first son of a former winner of the original BBC award to claim this title, and the fifth Ghanaian. He began the 2012 season with a hat-trick in the French Super League, while also playing a key role in ensuring that the Black Stars qualified unbeaten for the 2012 Nations Cup.
In 2012 Christopher Katongo from Zambia and China’s Henan Construction proved himself to be an excellent captain when Zambia defied the odds to win the 2012 Nations Cup. Named player of the tournament by the Confederation of African Football, the Zambian won the BBC prize in this year. “This is the thing I will never forget in my life”, Katongo told BBC Sport. “As a footballer you want to achieve something and I have done it through the fans who have recognised my hard work. This is one of the best awards, to be named among the best ever African players”.
Ivory Coast and Manchester City player, Yaya Toure, became the BBC’s 2013 trophy winner, after being nominated five times previously. His win was justified for outstanding and consistent performances for Manchester City.
Yacine Brahimi, playing for Porto, became the first Algerian to win the 2014 BBC African Footballer of the Year award. Brahimi played a central role in Algeria’s progression to the World Cup knockout stages.
In 2015 Yaya Toure from Ivory Coast and Manchester City captained the Ivory Coast when they won the Africa Cup of Nations, their first win in 23 years. Toure won the BBC African Footballer of the Year award for a second time, following on from his triumph in 2013.
In 2016 Algerian Riyad Mahrez, who plays for Leicester City, was the second Algerian to win the BBC award, after Brahimi’s success in 2014. His exploits made him the first African to win England’s prestigious PFA award, voted for by fellow professionals, while he was also the only African to make Fifa’s shortlist for Player of the Year in 2016.
In 2017 Mohamed Salah from Egypt and Liverpool was the third Egyptian to win the BBC award since Barakat‘s success in 2005 and Aboutrika’s win in 2008. Internationally, Salah drove Egypt to the Africa Cup of Nations final and had a hand in all seven of the goals that took the Pharaohs to their first World Cup in 28 years.
Mohamed Salah won the BBC award for the second time in 2018 when he scored twice for Egypt at the 2018 World Cup, even though the Pharaohs exited in the group stage.
Due to the Covid pandemic no awards were issued in 2019 and 2020 until the new awards in 2021 when it was decided to change the awards back to their intended purpose by reflecting the balance between gender, disability and variety of sports on offer.
The new BBC African Sports Personality of the Year trophy
The panel selected a shortlist based on the best African sporting achievements on the international stage in 2021 (between January and September). The impact of the person’s achievement beyond their particular sport was also taken into account.
The nominees are:
§ Eliud Kipchoge (athletics) from Kenya
§ Faith Kipyegon (athletics) from Kenya
§ Ntando Mahlangu (para-athletics) from South Africa
§ Christine Mboma (athletics) from Namibia
§ Edouard Mendy (football) from Senegal
§ Tatjana Schoenmaker (swimming) from South Africa
For the sports bettors, now is the time to research these nominees so that you know where to place your best bets.
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