Monday Jun 29, 2020. 11:00
African football legend Samuel Eto’o says the continent must back their own stars if they are to produce another Ballon d’Or winner.
The continent has not had a winner of the top individual prize since Liberian George Weah back in 1995. Eto’o was one of the strongest candidates to break that drought during his stellar career, and he believes that African players need more votes from their own brothers to have a shot at the top prize.
“It depends on the voters. There are some Africans who do not believe in the players of their continent, and this only happens in Africa,” Eto’o told AS.
“When we see players having a good season or not, they automatically win the votes of the continent to which they belong. We can make a difference in our continent, thinking carefully about what comes to us from abroad or that which is imposed on us.
“When you watch the matches of the leagues on foreign channels, you find that players are sold from other places and it is repeated that they are the best, and thus our journalists are convinced, despite the fact that the results are seen by everyone.”
Eto’o added, “But looking over the recent past, then I always say that [Lionel] Messi has been the best player in the world over those years, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo. I think they belong to another planet.
“But despite everything, in recent years emerging players like Sadio Mane have stood out. Someone who made an amazing difference, won almost all the titles, scored goals in all tournaments, but the result was that he did not win the Ballon d’Or. Why?
“Because of those people who vote thinking that the best has a different meaning and that he may have to be of descent from another place that is not our continent. That’s why on many occasions we lost.”
Mane notably finished fourth in the 2019 Ballon d’Or voting, placing behind Messi, Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk and Ronaldo.