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African football’s greatest nicknames



African football’s greatest nicknames

Goal remembers the great nicknames bestowed upon African players during their careers.

Asamoah Gyan

Gyan was nicknamed Baby Jet as a reference to his baby face and his sprint speed, with his friends giving him the name as a teenager.

The Ghana great later named his own airline company ‘Baby Jet Airlines’, inspired by the moniker.

Papa Bouba Diop

The former Fulham and Senegal midfielder was nicknamed ‘The Wardrobe’ due to his imposing size and presence in the heart of the park.

Rashidi Yekini

One of African football’s all-time great nicknames, the Nigeria striker—born in Kaduna—struck fear into the hearts of opposition defences due to his physicality and forcefulness.

Daniel Amokachi

A contemporary of Yekini in the national side, Amokachi’s ‘Black Bull’ nickname was reference, also, to his strength and power.

A devastating prospect for opposition defences.

Mohamed Salah

One of several players who have worn the ‘new Messi’ tag over the years, Salah was nicknamed the ‘Egyptian Messi’ following his early exploits in domestic football and with FC Basel.

Unlike many of the players who failed to live up to the moniker, Salah has actually proved himself worthy of the tag, winning two Golden Boots and the Champions League title during his time with Liverpool.

Peter Olawale

So Salah was nicknamed after Messi, so current Nigeria wonderkid Olawale has been christened ‘Little Ronaldo’ after the Barcelona superstar’s long-term rival.

Olawale is lethal in front of goal, boasts pace in abundance, and is a threat in the air, while he also netted at the U-17 World Cup last year.

Didier Zokora

There haven’t been too many African midfielders blessed with as much technical quality as Zokora, who had a delicious first touch and wowed fans with his footwork.

The Ivorian took to wearing ‘Maestro’ on the back of his shirt during the latter stages of his career.

David N’Gog

An attempt at humour from Liverpool fans, who nicknamed the misfiring Cameroonian striker ‘Wash ‘n’ Go’ after a laundry product.

Shola Ameobi

Less of a nickname than a reflection of Sir Bobby Robson’s inability to remember names, Ameobi was simply called ‘Carl Cort’ by the legendary former England manager, who appeared never be able to tell the difference between the Nigeria international and another recent black striker at Newcastle United.

Collins Okoth

Tenacious ex-Gor Mahia midfielder Okoth was nicknamed ‘Gattuso’ after the legendary Italy midfielder. No explanation needed here!

Samuel Eto’o

While various young Cameroonian forwards in recent years have been given the ‘New Eto’o’ tag, the man himself was nicknamed ‘Little Milla’ but ultimately outgrew his predecessor’s legend.

Vincent Enyeama

Another player to have qualified for the African Legends Cup of Nations, Enyeama is one of Africa’s greatest ever goalkeepers and was a Nations Cup winner in 2013.

He was nicknamed ‘The Cat’ due to his agility and reflexes.

Yaya Toure & Rigobert Song

These two emerged as elder statesmen of the game, and both were nicknamed ‘Uncle’ during the latter stages of their careers.

Song was called ‘Tonton’—French for ‘uncle’—and is remembered for the longevity of his career, while Raheem Sterling revealed in an interview that the Manchester City team called Toure ‘Uncle Yaya’ during the final years of his stay on Eastlands.

Obafemi Martins

One of Nigeria’s finest goalscorers this decade, Martins’ ‘Oba Goal’ nickname was simple and to the point.

It’s a shame that the Super Eagles didn’t benefit from his prowess in the opposition box for longer.

Japhet N’Doram

A champion in France with FC Nantes in 1985, N’Doram was a technical master, boasting excellent ball control, and was duly nicknamed ‘The Wizard’ as a nod to his prowess.

Chad’s greatest ever player, he would surely make an all-time Dream Team for Nantes as well.

Tshimen Bwanga

A key member of the great Zaire team that won two Africa Cup of Nations titles and reached the 1974 World Cup, Bwanga was known for his composure and elegancy in possession.

He was nicknamed ‘The African Beckenbauer’, in a nod to another magnificent libero of the day.

Taher Abouzeid & Ahmed Al Kass

Two iconic Egyptian playmakers who were both given the beautiful ‘Maradona of the Nile’ nickname due to their technical prowess, dribbling ability and turn of pace.

Both are remembered as Pharaohs greats.

Guylain Ndumbu-Nsungu

In the same way that Chelsea players seemingly couldn’t be bothered to learn how to pronounce Cesar Azpilicueta’s name, and instead call him ‘Dave’, so Sheffield Wednesday’s squad weren’t interested in attempting ‘Ndumbu-Nsungu’.

They just called him ‘Dave’.


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