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Caf Young Player of the Year: Every award winner and where are they now?

7:38 PM EDT 9/14/22
Iheanacho, Salah, Obi Mikel, Asamoah
Where are each of the 20 players named by the Confederation of African Football as the best young African player of the year?
  • Mantorras of Benfica & Angola

    #20 Mantorras

    Caught the eye as a wonderkid with Benfica, with his sharp movement and pace setting him apart as one to watch.

    He was part of the Angola team that reached the 2006 World Cup, but his career petered out and he retired aged just 28.

    The ex-striker subsequently worked for Benfica as an ambassador.

  • Mido 01172009

    #19 Mido

    Enjoyed a glamorous route through Ajax, Olympique de Marseille, AS Roma and Tottenham Hotspur during the early portion of his career, when Mido’s physicality and aggression made him a genuine threat in some of Europe’s biggest leagues.

    He was an African champion with Egypt, but ultimately faded into obscurity with the likes of Wigan Athletic and…erm…Barnsley.

    He’s held coaching roles with SC Zamalek, Ismaily SC and Wadi Degla, and is currently on the board of Egyptian side Zed FC.

  • Obafemi Martins of Seattle Sounders

    #18 Obafemi Martins

    Clinched the award in both 2003 and 2004, a time when he was breaking into the Internazionale side and appeared destined for the very top.

    Competition eventually squeezed him out of Inter, and he moved on to Newcastle Unitedand later won the League Cup with Birmingham City.

    He enjoyed success in the United States with Seattle Sounders and has been without a club since leaving Wuhan Zall in 2020.

  • John Obi Mikel Chelsea

    #17 John Obi Mikel

    One of the most decorated African players in history, Mikel starred at the Fifa Youth Championship in 2005—rivalling Lionel Messi as the outstanding player of the tournament—and subsequently secured a move to Chelsea (via a brief, brief moment with Manchester United).

    League titles, FA Cups, the Champions League and the Europa League followed over the next decade, and Mikel went on to feature for the likes of Middlesbrough, Trabzonspor and Stoke City.

    He’s been without a club since leaving Kuwait SC in 2021.

  • Taye Taiwo 17092012

    #16 Taye Taiwo

    One of several players on this list who peaked too soon, Taiwo excelled alongside Mikel in 2005 and went on to conquer French football with Olympique de Marseille.

    Subsequent moves to AC Milan and Queens Park Rangers didn’t truly work out, and the left-back has been without a club since leaving Finnish side SalPa earlier this summer.

  • Clifford Mulenga of SuperSport United & Zambia

    #15 Clifford Mulenga

    One of two Zambians to win the award, Mulenga clinched the prize in 2007, a period during which he was being eyed by the likes of PSV Eindhoven and Real Madrid.

    Ultimately, he never made his mark in the European game, although while he spent the majority of his career in Southern Africa, he was part of Zambia’s miraculous Nations Cup-winning team in 2012.

  • Salomon Kalou Elfenbeinküste

    #14 Salomon Kalou

    One of the unsung heroes of both a magnificent Chelsea side and the Ivory Coast’s Golden Generation, Kalou was the first Francophone player to win the YPOTY prize.

    He made his Elephants debut in 2007, and featured in the Nations Cup in 2008—the same year in which he was honoured as Africa’s best young player.

    He was a Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup winner at Chelsea, and recently signed for Djiboutian side AS Arta/Solar 7.

  • Dominic Adiyiah

    #13 Dominic Adiyiah

    At the end of the last decade, there weren’t too many young talents in the world who were more highly regarded than Adiyiah.

    The forward was the Ghana Premier League’s most exciting player in the 2007-08 season, and followed that up with an outstanding performance at the U-20 World Cup in 2009 when he claimed both the Golden Boot and the Golden Shoe.

    A Caf Young Player of the Year award followed, while Adiyiah was part of the Black Stars squad that reached the World Cup quarter-final in 2010.

    He's been without a club since leaving Thai side Chiangmai Utd in January 2021.

  • Kwadwo Asamoah Juventus Serie A

    #12 Kwadwo Asamoah

    On one hand, Asamoah was one of the most decorated players of his generation, winning six Serie A titles and reaching the Champions League and Europa League finals with Juventus and Internazionale.

    On the other hand, his career was ravaged by injury, with Asamoah never truly delivering on the promise his demonstrated as a youngster.

    Still only 33, he’s been without a club since leaving Cagliari in July 2021.

  • Souleymane Coulibaly

    #11 Souleymane Coulibaly

    Back in 2011, Coulibaly was simply sensational, scoring nine in four games at the U-17 World Cup, including a remarkable hat-trick against Brazil.

    His performances earned him a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but he never made the grade at Spurs and is currently with Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel after a bizarre career path including Bari, Peterborough United, Newport County, Al-Ahly, Partick Thistle, and Kilmarnock.

    He recently moved to the Cypriot top flight.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool Ajax 2022-23

    #10 Mohamed Salah

    The most successful name on this list, Salah appeared destined for great things when he clinched this prize in 2012, although expectations were revised downwards after he failed to make the grade at Chelsea.

    Since then, of course, he’s gone on to conquer the sport, becoming Africa’s top scoring player in Premier League history during his illustrious spell with Liverpool.

    The forward has also inspired the Reds to three Champions League finals—winning in 2019—and helped Liverpool end their three-decade wait for the top flight crown in 2020.

  • Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City and Nigeria.

    #9 Kelechi Iheanacho

    Another two-time winner, Iheanacho secured a move to Manchester City on the back of winning the U-17 World Cup with Nigeria in 2013 and the U-20 World Cup two years later.

    Things didn’t quite work out at the Etihad Stadium, with Pep Guardiola not seeing a future at the club for Iheanacho, although he remains in the Prem with Leicester City.

    This may be a decisive campaign for the striker, as he looks to prove—like another name on this list—that he can be the long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy.

  • akram afif - Yacine Brahimi - Youcef Belaili - qatar - algeria - arab cup 2021

    #8 Yacine Brahimi

    A genuine fantasy player, Brahimi was a member of the Algeria squad that won the Nations Cup in 2019.

    He caught the eye sporadically with Stade Rennais and FC Porto, although struggled to consistently influence games at the highest level.

    The former France U-21 international recently signed for Al-Gharafa SC in the Qatar top flight.

  • Peter Etebo - Nigeria

    #7 Oghenekaro Etebo

    Magnificent at the U-23 Nations Cup in late 2015, Etebo finished the tournament with a winner’s medal and as the competition’s top scorer.

    He also netted twice in the final, and appeared destined for the pinnacle of the game.

    Moving to Stoke City in 2018 arguably derailed his career, and he’s currently back with the Potters having spent time on loan with Getafe, Galatasaray and Watford.

  •  Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria and Barcelona.

    #6 Asisat Oshoala

    The only woman to win the award so far, Oshoala was the first player to claim the newly branded Young Player of the Year award in 2014.

    She’s enjoyed immense success over the intervening eight years, clinching silverware in England, China and with the Super Falcons.

    The attacker is currently with Barcelona, where she became the first African player to win the Champions League in 2021.

  • Victor Osimhen of Nigeria and Napoli.

    #5 Victor Osimhen

    Osimhen took the baton from his compatriot Oshoala in 2015, and has gone on to become the most prominent African striker in the world game.

    After impressing with LOSC Lille, he joined Napoli for a club-record €70 million, and was tipped for a move to Manchester United during the course of the transfer window.

  • Alex Iwobi Everton 2022-23

    #4 Alex Iwobi

    A third consecutive Nigerian winner, Iwobi was named Africa’s most promising during his time with Arsenal.

    Unlike Oshoala and Osimhen, he hasn’t become one of the top players in his position in the world, and has tumbled down the Premier League table with Everton.

    He’s delivered some encouraging performances under Frank Lampard this term; could he finally realise his potential?

  • Patson Daka of Zambia and Leicester City.

    #3 Patson Daka

    Striking sensation who clinched the YPOTY gong in 2017 following his magnificent performances for Red Bull Salzburg’s youth team.

    He followed Naby Keita and Sadio Mane from the Red Bull set-up to the Premier League with Leicester City, although as yet, his record in the top flight has been modest.

    Will this be the year he finally replaces Vardy as the Foxes’ leading man?

  • PSG Achraf Hakimi

    #2 Achraf Hakimi

    A two-time winner, Hakimi clinched the prize in 2018 and 2019, and surely he’ll be in contention to clinch the African Footballer in the future.

    After spells with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, he won the Serie A title with Internazionale and then went on to clinch the Ligue 1 crown with Paris Saint-Germain last term.

    Could he inspire PSG to the Champions League title this season?

  • Pape Matar Sarr Metz Ligue 1

    #1 Pape Matar Sarr

    The latest wonderkid to clinch the award, Pape Matar Sarr was something of a surprise winner—especially as he squeezed out Kamaldeen Sulemana for the prize.

    The starlet was a member of the Senegal squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations, albeit as a peripheral figure, and was also relegated with FC Metz.

    He’s certainly talented, but the award was a strange recompense for a tough year.