Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the third goal during the English Premier League match between Liverpool and Arsenal in Liverpool, Britain, on Nov. 20, 2021. Liverpool won 4-0.

Watch: The African players with the most votes in the last 10 Ballons d’Or

George Weah is still the only African player ever to have won the Ballon d’Or, but that’s not to say we haven’t seen a wealth of talent emerging from the continent over the last 20 years.

In our latest YouTube video, we’ve gone back over the last 10 Ballon d’Or awards to figure out which African player picked up the most votes each year and how close they actually went to winning the award.

Samuel Eto’o – 2011

Lionel Messi won his third consecutive Ballon d’Or in 2011, fending off Cristiano Ronaldo and Xavi with 47% of the votes.

Samuel Eto’o was Africa’s best performing player that year as he finished eighth in the rankings with 1.34% of the votes.

The Cameroon striker enjoyed his best season with Inter in 2010-11 as he scored 37 goals across all competitions before making his move to Russia later that year.

Didier Drogba – 2012

Didier Drogba may have only scored five Premier League goals in his final season with Chelsea, but he was always a man for the big occasions.

He produced one of the most clutch performances we have ever seen in a Champions League final and with his last kick of a ball in a Chelsea shirt, he won the Champions League against Bayern Munich.

Drogba finished in eighth place in the 2012 Ballon d’Or voting with 2.6% of the total vote.

Yaya Toure – 2013, 2014, 2015

The following three years were then dominated by Yaya Toure, who was Africa’s best-ranking player in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Ballon d’Or standings.

In 2013, Toure collected 48 votes which ranked him in 12th place and as the third-highest-ranking Premier League player behind Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie.

In 2013-2014 Toure had probably his greatest individual season as he scored 20 Premier League goals from midfield to help Manchester City reclaim their Premier League title.

The Manchester City midfielder finished 14th in the overall voting but was the Premier League’s highest-placed player this season.

The Ivory Coast midfielder was then Africa’s best performing player for a third consecutive year in 2015 as he placed 12th in the rankings with 0.89% of the vote.


READ: The story of Yaya Toure’s ‘completely average’ Arsenal trial against Barnet

Riyad Mahrez – 2016

Cristiano Ronaldo stormed to victory in the 2016 Ballon d’Or with 745 points to Lionel Messi’s 316, but in Africa this year was all about Riyad Mahrez.

Leicester City became the fairy-tale story of a lifetime as they won the Premier League title against all odds.

Mahrez was a key component to their success as he scored 17 goals and got 11 assists.

The Leicester City winger won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and came seventh in the Ballon d’Or with 20 points.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 2017

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had the most prolific season of his career with Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17 as he scored 40 goals across all competitions.

Seven of his goals that year came in the Champions League as Dortmund made it into the quarter-finals.

Mohamed Salah – 2018

Luka Modric finally broke the Messi and Ronaldo dominance in 2018 as he won the Ballon d’Or.

Mo Salah was Africa’s standout player this year as he scored 44 goals in his debut season with Liverpool.

The Egyptian winger scored 32 Premier League goals in the 2017-18 season, which is the highest scoring season of a Premier League player this century.

Salah also scored 10 Champions League goals to help Liverpool reach the final against Real Madrid and had he not gone off injured in the final, who knows what could have happened.

Liverpool’s main man finished sixth in the rankings with 188 points.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah

READ: 11 Premier League records that Liverpool’s Mo Salah has broken

Sadio Mane – 2019

Liverpool’s trio of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk all placed in the top five of the Ballon d’Or ranking in 2019 but they were all seen off by Lionel Messi who won his sixth award.

Mane was Africa’s highest-ranked player this year with 347 points which saw him finish in fourth place.

The Senegalese winger had his best goalscoring season with Liverpool in 2019 as he scored 26 goals in all competitions as Liverpool won the Champions League.

Mohamed Salah – 2021

In the most recent instalment of the Ballon d’Or, Mo Salah was once again Africa’s best-performing player.

Liverpool were on the cusp of a historic quadruple throughout the course of the season but they ultimately fell short in the Premier League and Champions League.

That’s not to take anything away from Salah, who had an excellent year all round.

Salah won the Premier League Golden Boot with 23 goals and he was the league’s best assister with 13 to his name.

He finished seventh in the overall rankings with 121 points in total.

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