Football legend Didier Drogba, who was famously known for his powerful strikes, surprisingly never lifted the Africa Cup of Nations trophy despite playing 105 times for his home country, Ivory Coast, and scoring an impressive 65 goals.
Drogba was widely considered one of Africa’s greatest strikers. He shone brightly for Chelsea, winning many titles. But with Ivory Coast, luck wasn’t on his side. He reached the AFCON finals twice, in 2006 and 2012, but heartbreakingly lost both times on penalties.
Adding to the bittersweet story, Ivory Coast finally clinched the AFCON title just a year after Drogba’s retirement. While it wasn’t a happy ending for him, it showed the strength of the team he helped build.
2. George Weah
George Weah is one name that echoes through the halls of football history, especially in Africa. His achievements on the pitch are like trophies stacked high, with no other African player coming close. The crown jewel among these achievements was winning the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual award in the world!
Arsene Wenger, a football legend himself, spotted Weah’s talent back in 1988. Weah became the blueprint for strikers of today with his speed, skill, and goal-scoring prowess.
But while he dominated on club teams, bringing home titles in France, Italy, and England, he couldn’t quite replicate that magic with his home country, Liberia. Despite his best efforts, Weah could only guide them to the African Cup of Nations twice, and sadly, they weren’t able to advance beyond the group stage on either occasion. This is what makes him one of the greatest players to ever play, yet he never graced the biggest stage—the World Cup. He may not have lifted the World Cup trophy, but his legacy as an African footballing king remains untarnished.
3. Frederick Kanoute
Frederick Kanoute wasn’t just another player who kicked the ball around in England’s Premier League. He shone brightly there, then went on to dazzle in Spain with Sevilla, scoring tons of goals and helping them win big trophies. But Kanoute wasn’t all about club glory. He was also a hero for his home country, Mali, leading them to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals in 2024! His amazing skills even earned him the title of African Footballer of the Year in 2007.
4. Kanu Nwankwo
Kanu Nwankwo is a football superstar and one of the luckiest, smartest, and most talented players Africa has ever seen. He did amazing things on the pitch in his home country, Nigeria, and even played for top teams like Ajax, Inter Milan, and Arsenal. You couldn’t have asked for more success!
But there was one trophy he just couldn’t grab—the African Cup of Nations. He came sooo close in 2000, reaching the final with Nigeria, but Cameroon took it home after penalty kicks. So close, but still a legend!
5. El Hadji Diouf.
El Hadji Diouf was a retired soccer star from Senegal who used to zip around the field as a winger or forward. He was a key player for his home team in the early 2000s, even helping them reach the amazing quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup! Things weren’t quite as smooth in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) though. While Diouf and his team made it all the way to the final in 2002, they sadly lost to Cameroon in the end.
Get the latest and greatest updates right away! Join our exclusive WhatsApp channel and never miss out on exciting news again.
6. Asamoah Gyan
Ghana’s football hero, Asamoah Gyan, was a big deal on the world stage, known for banging in goals left and right at the World Cup. But at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), things were different. He led his team all the way to the championship game twice, in 2010 and 2015, but heartbreakingly, Ghana lost both times. So close, yet so far from lifting the trophy!
7. Michael Essien
Michael Essien, a superstar footballer from Ghana, used to rule the midfield! Now, he is a member of a Danish Superliga club in Denmark. He even played for Ghana over 50 times!
Essien became a real hero at Chelsea, winning lots of trophies with them. While he couldn’t quite add the African Cup of Nations title to his collection (Egypt snatched it in the 2010 finals!), his career was still amazing.
8. Emmanuel Adebayor
Emmanuel Adebayor was a real star on the soccer field, especially when he played in England for teams like Arsenal and Manchester City. He also did amazing things for his home country, Togo.
People still remember his incredible skills and speed, and he even won the title of African Player of the Year in 2008! While he couldn’t quite lead Togo to win the Africa Cup of Nations, he helped them get all the way to the quarterfinals in 2013, which was a big accomplishment. So, even though he didn’t get the trophy, he was still a legend for Togo!
Check here for more updates.