15 Greatest African Goalkeepers of All Time

Who is the best African goalkeeper in the history of football?

A lot of countries in Africa, such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, and Ivory Coast are known as the birthplace of hundreds of talented football players who become key players in a lot of big clubs in Europe. Not only that, the national football team of African countries also often create surprises in the World Cup tournament by unexpectedly defeating some favorite teams.

In this article, I created a list of the fifteen best African goalkeepers of all time. There are some names such as Bruce Grobbelaar, Vincent Enyeama, Jacques Songo'o and Badou Ezzaki who are highly popular among the football fans worldwide. Well, who do you think deserves the title as the best? Be sure to vote at the end of this article, and let me know if there are more African goalkeepers that should be included in this list.

15. Richard Kingson

Kingson is a player who holds the record for most number of appearances for Ghana national football team. He became the country's number one goalkeeper in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010 and won a silver medal for Ghana national team in the 2010 African Cup. Throughout his career, Kingson scored a surprising goal from a header for his country in a friendly match against Tanzania in the year 2008. He also played in some European clubs such as Galatasaray, Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic; but always failed to get a place in the main squad.

14. Hans Vonk

Hans Vonk is a former South African goalkeeper who spent most of his career playing in the Dutch league. He served as the number one goalkeeper Hereenven SC in the period of 1996-2004, playing in 263 league games. Not only that, Vonk was also the first-choice goalkeeper of South Africa national team in the 1998 World Cup. Throughout his career, he represented his country in 43 international matches. Vonk retired as a professional footballer in 2011.

13. Peter Rufai

Peter Rufai was the Nigerian national team first-choice goalkeeper in the 1994 and 1998 World Cup. Besides having great goalkeeping abilities, he is also known as a player who possessed great leadership qualities, as he was trusted to be the captain of his country at the 1994 World Cup. His best achievement with the national team was winning the African Cup 1994. At club level, Rufai played for some European clubs such as Lokeren, Farense, Hercules, and Deportivo La Coruna.

12. Ali Boumnijel

Ali Boumnijel is a legendary Tunisian goalkeeper who represented his country for 16 years, from 1991 to 2007. He acted as the first-choice goalkeeper of Tunisia national team in the World Cup in 1998, 2002, and 2006. In those major tournaments, Boumnijel showed consistent appearances, although his country was always eliminated in the first round. He also had an important role in helping the national team claim the African Cup trophy in 2004. In the tournament, he saved a penalty kick from Peter Odemwingie in the semifinals round.

11. Robert Mensah

Robert Mensah is a former Ghanaian goalkeeper who was very famous in the 1960s. He was known as a controversial goalkeeper, where he often deliberately reading a newspaper in front of the net, with the purpose of ridiculing his opponents during a match. His solid performances led him to be named as a runner-up of African Player of the Year award in 1970. A year later, he passed away tragically in a bar fight.

10. Sadok Sassi

For 15 years, Sadok Sassi's position as the number one goalkeeper in Tunisia national football team was almost irreplaceable. Besides having outstanding goalkeeping abilities, Sassi was also very charismatic and determined. His debut for the national team in major tournament happened when he was 18 years old in the 1983 Africa Cup of Nations. Not only successful at national team level, Sassi also had great career at club level. During 21 years playing for Club Africain, he won five league titles and eight Tunisa Tunisian Cup trophies.

9. Tony Sylva

The brilliance of the Senegal national team in the 2002 World Cup could not be separated from Tony Sylva's great performances. Sylva started his career in the French league in 1993, but he spent more time as a substitute goalie and very rarely got a chance to play. He had to wait until 2004, when he finally claimed the number one goalkeeper position at Lille. During four years at the club, Sylva played in 163 league matches and helped Lille finished as a runner-up of Ligue 1 in 2005.

8. Idriss Carlos Kameni

Carlos Kameni's great talent could be seen at a very young age. He helped Cameroon national team win the 2000 Olympics at the age of 16 years, making him be the youngest footballer ever to win an Olympic gold medal. At club level, Kameni is known as one of the legendary Espanyol goalkeeper. He played for the club for eight years, presented a Copa Del Rey trophy in the 2005-06 season. Not only that, he also twice claimed the annual award of Best African Goalkeeper of the Year.

7. Jacques Songo'o

Just like Kameni, Songo'o experienced the best period of his career in the Spanish league. Starting first season in La Liga with Deportivo La Coruna, Songo'o successfully won "Zamora Award," a title given to the best goalkeeper of the competition. Not only that, he also played a major role in helping La Coruna win their first league title in the 1999-2000 season. Throughout his career, he played in 46 international matches for Cameroon national football team.

6. Badou Ezzaki

Before the era of Carlos Kameni and Jacques Songo'o, there is an African goalkeeper who already had great career in the Spanish La Liga. He is Ezzaki Bado, a Moroccan goalkeeper who performed brilliantly at RCD Mallorca in the 1986-1992 period. He even won the Zamora award in the 1988-89 season and helped the club to be the runner-up of the Copa Del Rey in the 1990-91 season. He represented his country in various international tournaments, such as the 1984 Olympics and 1986 World Cup.

5. Essam El-Hadary

Essam El-Hadary was praised by Didier Drogba as the best player he has ever played against. He made his debut for the national football team of Egypt in 1996 and presented four African Cup trophies for his country. Not only that, he won the 'Best Goalkeeper in Africa Cup of Nations." three times. Over 20 years of playing as a professional footballer, El-Hadary won eight Egyptian League titles, one Sudanes League title, and four African Champions League trophies.

4. Vincent Enyeama

In the last two years, the reputation and popularity of Vincent Enyeama increased dramatically. He successfully helped his country win the African Nations Cup in 2013 and was nominated as the best goalkeeper of Ligue 1 in the 2013-14 season. Not only that, in 2013 he also made 11 clean sheets in a row, where he was not conceded a single goal for 1,062 minutes. Apart from his prolific goalkeeping ability, Enyeama can score goals too. Throughout his career, he has netted 19 goals.

3. Joseph-Antoine Bell

Joseph-Antoine Bell is a player who was awarded the title as the Best African Goalkeeper of the 20th Century by IFFHS. He spent most of his career in the French league with Marseille, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne. His consistent forms as a goalkeeper made his position in the clubs was almost irreplaceable. Throughout his career in the 1975-1994 period, he represented his country in 50 international matches.

2. Thomas N'Kono

Thomas N'Kono is legendary Cameroon goalkeeper who represented his country in three World Cups and four African Nations Cup tournaments. N'Kono appearance in the 1990 World Cup even became an inspiration for Gianluigi Buffon to choose a career as a goalkeeper. In the tournament, he successfully helped the country advance to the quarterfinal round before being defeated by England in a dramatic match. At club level, N'Kono also had great career. Most of the time, he was selected as the first-team goalkeeper of Espanyol in the 1982-1991 period, playing in total of 241 league matches.

1. Bruce Grobbelaar

I named Bruce Grobbelaar as the best African goalkeeper of all time because of his exceptional achievements at Liverpool in the 1981-1994 period. For thirteen years joining the club, the Zimbabwean goalkeeper played in over 600 matches, claiming six Premier League titles, four League Cup trophies, three FA Cups and one Champions Cup trophy.

Grobbelaar was known for his agility and outstanding self-confidence. Since replacing the role of Ray Clemence in 1981, his position as Liverpool's number one goalkeeper was almost irreplaceable.

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