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African All Stars

Obi John Mikel & Africans who played under assumed identities

10:00 pm AEST 19/9/22
Okocha Mikel Abedi Pele
Which of the continent’s stars played under assumed identities?

  • John Obi Mikel | Chelsea

    Obi John Mikel

    The Nigeria great twice played under a 'false' name during his career, first taking the name 'Mikel' despite his given name being Michael, due to a clerical error.

    During his peak years at Chelsea, he played under the name John Obi Mikel, despite later clarifying that Mikel ought to be regarded as his first name, with John Obi as his second names.

    This meant a second name change for the Africa Cup of Nations-winning midfielder.

  • Silas Wamangituka Stuttgart 2019-20

    Silas Katompa Mvumpa

    VfB Stuttgart forward Silas made headlines when it was revealed that he had been played under a false identity and with a falsified age.

    Formerly known as Silas Wamangituka, the entertaining forward netted 11 goals in the German top flight last term, only for his season to be curtailed due to injury.

    Subsequently, he admitted—with the support of his club—that his former agent changed his age and name in order to help his career prospects.

    “I have lived in constant fear in recent years and I was also very worried about my family in the Congo. It was a difficult step for me to reveal my story," Silas told journalists.

    "I only dared to do this with the support of my new consultants,” he added. “I realised that I no longer have to be afraid and that we can put everything on the table together.”

  • Amad Diallo Manchester United GFX

    Amad Diallo

    A similar story to Silas, Manchester United wonderkid Diallo was also penalised for fabricating an identity in order to facilitate a move to Europe.

    Earlier this year, the starlet was found guilty of violating the Italian Sports Justice Code by falsifying documents to present himself as ‘Diallo Amad Traore’ in order to suggest a relationship with an Ivorian resident in Italy.

    He was ultimately fined €48,000, and later changed his Facebook name from Amad Traore to his birth name Amad Diallo.

  • Guelor Kanga Crvena Zvezda 2017

    Guelor Kanga

    Currently the subject of an allegation by the Congolese Football Federation, the DRC have filed a lawsuit suggesting that Gabon are guilty of falsifying Kanga’s true identity.

    While the player has been a Gabon international since 2012, Congo claim that he is actually four years older than his stated age of 30, and that his real name is Kiaku-Kiaku Kianga.

    Their allegation is that Gabon gave the player—who was originally born in Congo—Gabonese citizenship and a fake birth certificate in order to represent the Panthers, and that his mother died four years before his registered date of birth.

  • Jay Jay Okocha Fenerbahce

    Jay-Jay Okocha

    So good, they named him twice—according to Bolton Wanderers fans—but Okocha actually took on another name earlier in his career.

    During his time in Turkish football with Fenerbahce, the playmaker acquired Turkish citizenship and opted for a different name while playing in the Super Lig.

    Muhammed Yavuz was the attacker’s name when he was in the Turkish top flight, although it doesn’t quite lend itself to terrace chants in the same way as his original moniker!

  • Jabu Mahlangu

    Jabu Pule

    Former South African wonderkid Pule changed his name in 2006, when he dropped the surname upon which he built his career and altered his name to Jabu Mahlangu.

    According to reports, the decision was taken by the player in order to honour his late father, who was named Mahlangu.

    The 40-year-old was a sensation during the early part of his career at Kaizer Chiefs, but struggled to adapt to a move to SV Mattersburg in Germany, with controversial issues and disciplinary problems ultimately engulfing his carer.

  • Abedi Pele

    Abedi Pele

    Born Abedi Ayew—the surname still carried by his sons Jordan and Andre—the legendary Ghana forward is better known by the name ‘Abedi Pele’.

    The attacker was given the nickname Pele while at school in Ghana—a reference to the Brazil great—and ‘Abedi Pele’ became the name upon which he built his career.

  • Ali Dia Southampton

    Ali Dia

    Widely considered as the worst player ever to play in the Premier League, Dia featured for 53 minutes of Southampton’s defeat by Leeds United in November 1996, and his cameo was described by Matt Le Tissier as “like Bambi on ice.”
    Subbed on his Saints debut, Dia was so terribly he never featured for the club again, and was released two weeks into his contract.

    ‘How’, you may ask, ‘did a player so hapless manage to play in the Premier League?’

    Well, this is where the assumed identity comes in, with Dia only getting a contract with Southampton after a man claiming to be George Weah—he later turned out to be Dia’s agent—called then-Saints boss Graeme Souness offering the Scottish coach the chance to sign Weah’s cousin.

    One can understand why Souness took the bait, but Weah, Ali Dia was not, and he was later named—by The Times—as the worst Prem footballer ever.