Each year the best footballers on the African continent are nominated for an award that will crown the best of the best. Once these nominees are selected a voting process commences to determine the African Player of the Year. The award for 2015 is set to be decided at a gala event in Abuja on Thursday, January 7.
With the announcement for the 2015 winner taking place soon, we take a look 8 things you should know about the African Player of the Year Award.
The three nominees for 2015: The Confederation of African Football (CAF) chose Ghanaian Andre Ayew of Swansea City, Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who plays for Borussia Dortmund, and Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure from Cote D’Ivoire as the three nominees for 2015. One of those three star players will be crowned Africa’s best player for the year.
Yaya Toure is a record breaker: Toure is a familiar name on this list, and has been honoured as the African Player of the Year for the last four years in a row. The Manchester City midfielder is one of the best talents to emerge from Africa in the last decade, and continues to be a symbol for African success on the world sporting stage. He captained Cote D’Ivoire to the 2015 AFCON title, leading by example with excellent performances throughout the tournament, and may add a record fifth successive award this week.
Before Yaya there was Samuel: Before Yaya Toure dominated the football scene from an African perspective, Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o was the original record-breaker with regards to the African Player of the Year award. He was the most decorated African player after he won the award on four occasions, in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2010.
The CAF award was launched in 1992: The award from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) concerning the best African player was initiated in 1992. Before the current award was launched by the African confederation, France Football magazine was responsible for awarding the African Footballer of the Year Golden Ball award between 1970 and 1994.
A European-born winner: The 2007 award was given to Sevilla FC’s Frédéric Kanouté after experiencing an outstanding season for club and country. The Mali international being named African Footballer of the Year meant that Kanouté was the first European-born player to win the award. Born in France, the striker represented his father’s native Mali on the international stage.
Abedi Pele was the first winner of the award: In 1992, the first award handed out by CAF went to Ghanaian football legend, Abedi Pele. The father of current African Player of the Year nominee Andre Ayew was chosen as one of the 100 best players of the last century as a FIFA 100 member, and will forever hold the distinction of being the first recipient of the CAF African Player of the Year award in 1992.
How the process works now: The award has gone through an evolution since it was initiated in 1992, and in recent editions it has been refined to include the media and African football stakeholders. Selected media personalities are engaged at first to determine nominees, which are eventually transformed to three final nominees. The victor of the accolade is then decided from the final three by a voting process which included the coaches or technical directors of the 54 national associations affiliated to CAF, before the announcement at the gala event each year.