Former Chelsea and ex-Ghana international Michael Essien has revealed his African Team of the Decade, with ex-Blues teammate Mikel John Obi a notable absentee.
The midfielder, who shone in West London between 2005 and 2014, was one of the club’s stalwarts before injuries slowed him down since 2010.
Be that as it may, Essien unsurprisingly named himself in the team. Expectedly, he also named former Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba in the side having played with the former striker who netted over 150 goals for the club. Drogba was instrumental as Carlo Ancelotti’s men claimed their third Premier League title as well as the FA Cup, with the forward ending as top scorer with 29 goals.
He was also vital in the Blues’ Champions League triumph, where he netted several key goals in their run to their only ever success in Europe’s premier club competition. In addition, after leaving England, the Ivorian won three trophies in Galatasaray with success in the league, Cup and Super Cup. Another inclusion was Nigeria�s Vincent Enyeama, whose consistency in the previous decade continued into the soon-to-be-concluded one. The former Enyimba shot-stopper was vital in the Super Eagles’ ending a 19-year wait for Africa Cup of Nations success in 2013, before helping Maccabi Tel Aviv win the Isreali top-flight title in the same year.
Also, he nearly ended Gaetan Huard’s record of 1176 minutes without conceding a goal in Ligue 1 but fell just 115 minutes short after keeping 11 consecutive clean sheets. Mikel, who won the league with Chelsea in 2010 and 2015, the Champions League and Europa League in 2012 and 2013 respectively, as well as Afcon 2013 missed out owing to Yaya Toure’s inclusion. The Manchester City legend heralded the Citizens’ rise to prominence which included two league titles and FA Cup success.
The defence consists of Yaya’s brother Kolo, Cameroon’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Medhi Benatia – who won league titles in Germany and Italy with Bayern Munich and Juventus, respectively – as well as Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly, who has become one of the best central defenders in Europe in the last few years with Napoli. Essien and Yaya Toure are the midfielders in the Ghanaian’s selection, while the front four consists of Samuel Eto’o, Drogba, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. The decade began for Eto’o with a treble at Inter Milan in 2010, as they ruled domestically and in Europe with Jose Mourinho at the helm.
Eto’o deservedly won the Caf African Player of the Year award for 2010. Mane and Salah have been prolific for Liverpool in recent seasons, and have played a vital part in the Reds ascending to the summit of Europe, which culminated in their success in June. The Egyptian has won the last two awards for Africa’s best player, in 2017 and 2018, and is in contention with Mane for this year’s award. Both players are expected to rule the continent in the first half of the next decade.
Essien’s Team of the Decade
Goalkeeper: Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria).
Defenders: Kolo Toure (Ivory Coast), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal), Mehdi Benatia (Morocco), Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Cameroon)
Midfielders: Michael Essien (Ghana), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast).
Forwards: Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon).