• Profile

Who is the first African to win the Champions League?

Bruce Grobbelaar, Champions League
Getty Images
Advertisement

Africa boasts over 25 Champions League winners since the competition’s inception in 1955, but who was the first player to win it?

Africa has played an important role in football history. Some remarkable players have come from the continent, showcasing incredible skills and winning Europe’s biggest club competitions.

The first African to win the Champions League was Bruce Grobbelaar. The Zimbabwean goalkeeper won the competition with Liverpool in May 1984 in Rome, Italy. To date, he is the only footballer from Zimbabwe to win in Europe and only the second in Southern Africa after Benni McCarthy.

In this feature, we briefly recall Grobbelaar’s famous night in Rome from 27 years ago, look at how many African players have won the Champions League, and who are the most successful.

Grobbelaar, the first African to win the Champions League

In 1984, Liverpool were European royalty. The Reds were a formidable side boasting legends such as Graeme Souness, Mark Lawrenson, Kenny Dalglish, and Ian Rush. The latter, in fact, enjoyed his most prolific season back then. He found the back of the net 47 times.

The English giants had won three of the last seven Champions League titles – known as the ‘European Cup’ back then – and already had the league title and EFL Cup in the bag by the time they headed to Italy.

But when it came to the European final, Grobbelaar – not Rush, Dalglish, or any other star names you may expect – was the man of the moment.

In 13 seasons at Anfield, Grobbelaar’s most famous moment in a Reds shirt came then. Liverpool could only draw 1-1 with Roma after Roberto Pruzzo canceled out Phil Neal’s opening goal. Therefore, the club’s European hopes rested on the Zimbabwean’s shoulders in a penalty shootout.

And he didn’t disappoint.

The goalkeeper famously forced Roma players Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani into missing their spot-kicks by employing his ‘spaghetti legs’ stance.

From a goal down after Steve Nicol missed the first penalty, Grobbelaar’s heroics led Liverpool to a 4-2 win in the shootout to become the first English club to win all three major trophies in one season.

How many Africans have won the Champions League?

26 players from Africa have won the Champions League since UEFA founded the competition in 1955. Most winners from the continent have come from West Africa. Here we have a list of every Champions League winner.

North Africa

PlayerCountryClubYear
Rabah Madjer🇩🇿FC Porto1987
Achraf Hakimi🇲🇦Real Madrid2018
Mohamed Salah🇪🇬Liverpool2019
Hakim Ziyech🇲🇦Chelsea2021

Southern Africa

PlayerCountryClubYear
Bruce Grobbelaar🇿🇼Liverpool2004
Benni McCarthy🇿🇦FC Porto1984

East Africa

PlayerCountryClubYear
McDonald Mariga🇰🇪Inter Milan2010

West Africa

PlayerCountryClubYear/s
Abedi Pelé🇬🇭Marseille1993
Finidi George🇳🇬Ajax1995
Nwankwo Kanu🇳🇬Ajax1995
Ibrahim Tanko🇬🇭B.Dortmund1997
Samuel Kuffour🇬🇭Bayern Munich2001
Djimi Traoré🇲🇱Liverpool2005
Yaya Touré🇨🇮Barcelona2009
Seydou Keita🇲🇱Barcelona2009, 2011
Sulley Muntari🇬🇭Inter Milan2010
John Obi Mikel🇳🇬Chelsea2012
Michael Essien🇬🇭Chelsea2012
Salomon Kalou🇨🇮Chelsea2012
Didier Drogba🇨🇮Chelsea2012
Sadio Mane🇸🇳Liverpool2019
Naby Keita🇬🇳Liverpool2019
Édouard Mendy🇸🇳Chelsea2021

Central Africa

PlayerCountryClubYear/s
Geremi🇨🇲Real Madrid2000, 2002
Samuel Eto’o🇨🇲Barcelona/Inter2006, 2009, 2010
Joel Matip🇨🇲Liverpool2019

Who has won the most titles?

We know who was the first African to win the Champions League, but has won the most titles? That would be Samuel Eto’o. The Cameronian striker won the competition three times, twice with Barcelona (2006, 2009) and once at Inter Milan (2010).

Check out the link here to find out who are the top African goalscorers in Champions League history here.

x