Champions League: Five times Africans flourished in the final

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With Europe’s top club competition concluding this weekend, GOAL recollects previous occasions where the continent’s stars thrived in the decider

  1. Champions League
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    Champions League

    The 2022 Champions League final will be the 30th since the competition’s revamping in 1992/93.

    Over the years, a plethora of Africans have dominated in Europe’s premier club tournament, a feat Liverpool’s African contingent led by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane look to replicate against Real Madrid this weekend.

    In this feature, GOAL remembers some decisive showings in the final of the competition since its revamp in the early 1990s.

  2. Abedi Pele (1993)
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    Abedi Pele (1993)

    In the first edition of the Champions League era, the Ghana icon made history with Olympique Marseille to become the first-ever French side to reign supreme in Europe.

    Pele was directly involved in the winning goal, too, winning the corner and delivering a perfect set-piece that was headed home by Basile Boli.

    Speaking years later, the centre-back revealed how Pele had advised near-post runs rather than far-post ones owing to the height of AC Milan’s defenders.

    Marseille were under the cosh for the majority of that final, but they held on and their Ghana superstar played a decisive part in their success.

  3. Samuel Eto’o (2006)
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    Samuel Eto’o (2006)

    While his 2009 and 2010 impact with Barcelona and Inter Milan come close, Eto’o played an even greater role in Barca’s 2-1 turnaround triumph over Arsenal four years earlier.

    It was the Cameroonian who was felled by Jens Lehmann after 18 minutes which left the Gunners in the lurch for the remainder of the game.

    While the North London side rallied and even went in front through a 37th-minute Sol Campbell header, Barca netted two goals within four minutes to lead.

    Eto’o levelled with 14 minutes to play — his sixth strike in that year’s tournament — before a Juliano Belletti effort made it 2-1 with 10 minutes of normal time to play, ending Barca’s 14-year wait for the trophy.

  4. Didier Drogba (2012)
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    Didier Drogba (2012)

    Drogba came up trumps for Chelsea against all the odds in 2012 when the clear underdogs defeated Bayern Munich on their turf at the Allianz Arena.

    Thomas Muller had opened the scoring for the Bavarians with seven minutes to play, seemingly claiming the title for the German outfit who dominated for nearly the entire game.

    However, a bullet header in the 88th minute levelled proceedings for the West Londoners who forced the game into extra time.

    Drogba’s blushes may have been subsequently spared by Petr Cech’s penalty save from Arjen Robben, but Chelsea’s man for the big occasions stepped up and dispatched the winning penalty in the shootout to claim the club’s maiden Champions League title.

  5. Joel Matip (2019)
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    Joel Matip (2019)

    While the attention was on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in that all-English final in 2019, it was Matip who delivered a strong showing against the Lilywhites.

    The centre-back was dominant in the majority of his duels on the night and never shied away from clearing the ball from harm’s way in the 2-0 success.

    Matip assisted Divock Origi’s goal in the game’s closing stages, putting paid to any hope that Spurs had of equalising.

    Virgil van Dijk was named man of the match, but perhaps it should have been his centre-back partner.

  6. Edouard Mendy (2021)
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    Edouard Mendy (2021)

    Admittedly, Mendy did not make a plethora of saves in last year’s final defeat of Manchester City, the goalkeeper’s role in Chelsea’s goal should not be underplayed.

    The shot-stopper’s accurate pass to Ben Chilwell who touched the ball forward for Mason Mount, and the Englishman picked out Kai Havertz for the only goal of the game three minutes from half-time.

    Mendy kept nine clean sheets in last year’s competition, with none more important than the final against the Citizens.