By Ogova Ondego
Published January 8, 2016
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon has won the CAF’s African Footballer of the Year award.
Aubameyang, the first player from central Africa to win the award of the best player in Africa, beat four-time winner, Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast, to the prize.
Despite a not-so-great performance in 2015 compared to Toure’s, the coaches and technical directors of national teams in Africa awarded Aubameyang 143 votes against Toure’s 136.
This came hot on the heels of the BBC African Footballer of the Year award that Toure won based on what is described as his contribution to the development of African football.
The 32-year-old Toure was captain of his national team for the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea where he “opened the scoring in the semi-final to put his side on course for a 3-1 victory over Democratic Republic of Congo,” BBC said. “Toure was a key influence as his country end a 23-year wait for their second Nations Cup title, overcoming Ghana in a penalty shootout in the final.”
Based on this performance that had earned the Ivorian the BBC African Footballer of the Year award from the voting public, pundits had put their money on Toure to be named, for the fifth time running, the African Footballer of The Year for 2015.
But January 7, 2015 was Aubameyang’s night as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) named him the African Footballer of 2015. He became the first Central African to win the trophy that has gone to Ivory Coast six times, Nigeria and Cameroon five times and Senegal twice.
Toure and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o have each won the trophy four times; in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, and 2003,2004,2005 and 2010, respectively.
Nigeria’s Nwankwo Kanu (1996,1999), Senegal’s El Hadji Diouf (2001,2002)and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba (2006,2009) have each won it twice.
Aubameyang is a striker with Germany’s Bundesliga side, Borussia Dortmund. He scored 29 Bundesliga goals in 2015 plus a further seven in the Europa League.
Born in France to a Gabonese father and a Spanish mother, Aubameyang becomes the second Europe-born player to win the African Footballer of the Year award; Mali’s French-born Frederic Kanoute was the first in 2007.
Some of the other winners of the African trophy over the past 23 years include Nigeria’s Rashidi Yekini (1993), Emmanuel Amuneke (1994), Victor Ikpeba (1997), Ghana’s Abedi Pelé (1992), and Cameroon’s Patrick Mboma (2000).
Also winning the CAF trophy have been Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor (2008), Morocco’s Mustapha Hadji (1998) and Liberia’s George Weah (1995)
The African Footballer of the Year award has been presented annually by CAF since 1992.