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Robert Fay

The African Cup of Nations was founded to be not only a sporting event, but also a means of promoting African sovereignty and unity. Despite religious and linguistic differences among member nations and periods of political instability, both the number and quality of competitors in the African Cup have steadily increased since its founding nearly fifty years ago. Because of their skill exhibited at the tournaments, African soccer players are now highly sought by leagues throughout the world.

The African Cup of Nations began in February 1957 when representatives from Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Africa met in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to form the governing body of African football the Confédération Africaine de Football CAF and to plan a continental international football tournament Newly independent Sudan was picked to host the first tournament in which only three teams competed Sudan Ethiopia and Egypt the ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

soccer player, was born Abedi Ayew on 5 September 1964 in the small town of Kibi, Eastern Region, Ghana. His family moved to the village of Oko, near Accra, the national capital when Abedi was still quite young. Along with his fourteen half- and full-siblings (including younger brother Kwame, who also played in European club football and won an Olympic Gold Medal for Ghana in 1992), he grew up in poverty in a community that had no electricity. Like so many young Ghanaians, Ayew began to play soccer when he was a small boy, running barefooted around his town and at the Dome Anglican primary school. Older players struggled to keep up with Ayew in his early days, and by the time he entered adolescence, he had developed into a very talented attacking midfielder. In 1978 Real Tamale United a soccer club in the country s northern ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

soccer goalkeeper, was born in the town of Mouandé in Sanaga-Maritime province, Cameroon on 8 October 1954. His family considered education to be Bell's highest priority as a child, but he already showed the rebellious streak that characterized his professional career. Bell spent over a year in jail when he was seventeen years old, but he was acquitted and completed his secondary education. He had begun to excel as a soccer goalkeeper by the time he reached secondary school. By 1969 he had become one of leading teenage soccer players in his country, and began his professional career with the Union de Douala football club. Thanks in no small part to Bell's play, the Union de Douala won the 1979 African Cup of Champions Clubs the leading international club competition in the continent In Cameroon his only serious rival as a top goalkeeper was Thomas Nkono who ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

on 16 June 1914, the son of a boat repairer. Information about his early life is scant, but it is known that some of Ben Barek’s ancestry was from Senegal. By 1921 he had begun to play soccer with only a rudimentary ball made of fabric and sometimes played games where only he and a goalie challenged a full team from a different neighborhood. By the time he was fourteen years old, Ben Barek joined his first club, FC El Ouatane of Casablanca. His speed and scoring ability soon made him a star, even if his fame was not matched by financial riches in the hardscrabble world of Moroccan club soccer in the 1930s. He therefore found work in the gas industry to make a living when a young man. From 1930 Ben Barek was a top player for the second division side Idéal Club in Casablanca joining ...

Article

Eric Young

German colonizers first introduced soccer, known in Africa as football, to Cameroon around 1880, and the game quickly became popular. Over time Cameroon developed a strong network of professional teams, especially in Yaoundé and Douala. Many of these teams have won the African Champions Cup, the continental professional league championships.

The Indomitable Lions, Cameroon’s national team, have been a major force on the African soccer scene since the 1970s. In 1982 the green, red, and yellow Indomitable Lions reached soccer’s World Cup for the first time. The team went on to win the African Cup of Nations in 1984 and 1988. The Indomitable Lions’ reign peaked in 1990 when they reached the World Cup quarterfinals with passionate play and impressive individual skills They were eliminated by one of Cameroon s former colonial powers Britain In the early 1990s the national team was weakened by infighting among players ...

Article

Charles Boehm

was born Clive Michael Charles in East London, England, the youngest of Moister and Jessica Charles’ nine children. Jessica raised the children mostly on her own after Moister was lost at sea when Clive was six years of age.

After spending his childhood playing soccer in the rough streets of their industrial neighborhood, at age twelve Clive followed his older brother John into the academy system at West Ham United FC, East London’s most successful club. He and his brother were among the first wave of black players to enter the sport, representing an epochal cultural shift in English soccer.

From 1971 to 1972 Charles was loaned out by West Ham to Olympique Montreal a club in the recently established North American Soccer League NASL a daring attempt to bring the world s most popular game to the United States and Canada soccer s final frontier Though he would ...

Article

Curt Johnson

professional soccer player, later became the charismatic leader of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA; Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) forces in eastern Angola during the Angolan Revolution. He subsequently broke with the leadership of the MPLA and led a faction opposed to MPLA President Dr. Agostinho Neto. In the Angolan Civil War, his faction was allied with Holden Roberto’s Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA; Front for the National Liberation of Angola) and Jonas Savimbi’s União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA; National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) against Neto’s MPLA.

Daniel Júlio Chipenda, an Ovimbundu, was the son of Jesse Chipenda, a prominent Protestant clergyman and activist who died in a Portuguese prison camp in 1969 The younger Chipenda associated with Angolan dissidents in Luanda He later was a popular student athlete at Coimbra University in Portugal 1958 ...

Article

Phil Vasili

Footballer born on 8 March 1956 in London. A winger, Cunningham played for Haringey Schools and South‐East Counties Schools before joining Leyton Orient in July 1974. His delicate skills and lightning change of space soon attracted football's elite. In 1977 he signed for West Bromwich Albion, joining fellow black players Brendan Batson and Cyrille Regis. The team became known for their flamboyant and exciting football, while Cunningham, Regis, and Batson were labelled by the manager Ron Atkinson football's Three Degrees, after the US soul group.

In April 1977 Cunningham played for the England under‐21 team against Scotland, the first black footballer to do so (but not the first player of colour to wear an England shirt). He graduated to the full England team, and between May 1979 and October 1980 he won six caps During this period he was transferred to Real Madrid the giants of European ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

soccer player and coach, was born in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in the French South American colony of Guiana on 10 November 1910. Diagne's mother, Marie Odette Villain, was a native of French Guiana. She met her husband, Raoul's Senegalese-born father Blaise Diagne, while he was working there as an agent in the French customs service. The elder Diagne later became mayor of Dakar and a prominent member of the French parliament as a representative of the Quatre Communes coastal settlements of Senegal. Raoul had two brothers: the World War II hero and doctor Adolphe Diagne and Roland Diagne, a railway employee. Raoul Diagne received his secondary education at the prestigious Lycée Janson-de-Sailly in Paris and there, in 1923, he began to play soccer. Although his parents wanted Diagne to become a doctor or a lawyer, Diagne preferred sport; in 1929 Diagne was his secondary school long jump champion ...

Article

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

soccer player and the first African-born European Footballer of the Year, was born Eusébio da Silva Ferreira in the Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) suburb of Mafalala in the Portuguese colony of Mozambique. The son of a relatively poor family where the father was a railway mechanic, Eusébio had five brothers and one sister. He joined Sporting Club Lourenço Marques in his early teens and helped the side to a Mozambique national championship in 1960. His exceptional soccer talent was discovered at age seventeen by a visiting Brazilian coach who tipped off Béla Guttmann, the legendary Hungarian manager of the Portuguese club Benfica. Guttmann subsequently flew to Lourenço Marques and shortly thereafter brought Eusébio to Lisbon and Benfica in December 1960 Controversy between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica remains to this day about the circumstances around Eusébio s signing for Benfica and not their bitter rival Sporting the latter accuses ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

to a father who came from France and worked in the tobacco business and a mother who was Spanish. Fontaine had six siblings (four brothers and two sisters). By primary school his interest in soccer eclipsed at times his commitment to his studies, much to the annoyance of his father who wanted Fontaine to become a doctor. He excelled at numerous sports, from basketball to track events, was a star of his secondary school soccer club, and helped AC Marrakesh win a youth championship. After passing his baccalaureate examinations, which made him a rarity among French and Moroccan professional players, he joined his first professional club, USM Casablanca in 1950, notching a prolific tally of sixty-two goals in only forty-eight appearances.

Such a strike rate saw Fontaine lured to France in 1953 to play for Olympique Nice Mario Zatelli the coach of the Nice club saw Fontaine play ...

Article

Arthur Friedenreich was born in São Paulo, Brazil to a Brazilian mother of African descent and a German immigrant father who was a merchant. Friedenreich played soccer in São Paulo for most of the twenty-six years of his career. In the 1920s the exceptional forward amazed South American and European audiences with his playing, although only a few years earlier mulattos (of African and European descent) and blacks were not allowed to play on Brazilian club teams or with Brazilian teams traveling abroad.

From 1914 to 1930 Friedenreich played twenty-one times for the Brazilian national team. No game was more important than the one against Uruguay in the final of the 1919 South American Championship Friedenreich scored the only goal of that game guaranteeing Brazil s first major international trophy and catapulting him into a position of national and international celebrity In Argentina the press nicknamed him El Tigre ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

soccer player, was born Joseph Nicolas Gaetjens in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the third of seven children of Edmond Gaetjens and Toto Gaetjens (maiden name unknown). Gaetjens was descended on his mother's side from Leonie Dejoie, the daughter of a black general in the Haitian revolution. His paternal great grandfather had come to Haiti as a trade representative for the King of Prussia. Joe Gaetjens thus grew up among Haiti's light skinned elite. Some sources give his middle name as Edouard. Little is known about his early life before he emigrated to New York City as a twenty-three-year-old in 1947 There he studied accounting at Columbia University and paid his rent and tuition by washing dishes in a Manhattan restaurant When the restaurant manager discovered that Gaetjens had played soccer for L Étoile Haïtienne in Port au Prince he arranged a trial for him with the Brookhattan team of the ...

Article

Marcos Natalí

The man who a Brazilian poet would later call an “angel with crooked legs” was born into a poor family in a rural village not far from the city of Rio de Janeiro. His given name was Manoel Francisco dos Santos. He was one of fifteen children in this family with a cafuzo (of African and Indian descent) father and a mulatto mother (of African and European descent). His nickname, Garrincha, was given to him by a sister, who likened him to the small brown bird by that name.

Despite being stricken with poliomyelitis when still a boy and having both legs bent to one side, Garrincha played for the local English factory team when young. He became known in local Soccer teams for his tremendous control of the ball and unbelievable dribbles yet city teams repeatedly turned down the seventeen year old with crooked legs Garrincha was ...

Article

George Lewis

athlete, photographer, and poet, was born Gilbert Heron in Kingstown, Jamaica. Though he was a talented photographer, particularly of sporting events, and a notable poet, publishing a collection entitled I Shall Wish Just for You as late as 1992, Heron's fame derives from neither. He remains best known as a pioneering nonwhite sportsman in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and as father to the eclectic, prolific, and hugely influential jazz musician and wordsmith Gil Scott-Heron.

Heron came to attention as an association football or soccer player for the Detroit Corinthians although he had previously turned out for the Canadian Air Force Detroit Wolverines and Chicago Sting Standing just below five feet ten inches and weighing just under 178 pounds Heron had the speed and agility that gave him the perfect characteristics for football s target man and goal scorer the center forward In the ...

Article

Colin Babb

soccer player, was born in Germiston, a suburb of Johannesburg in South Africa, on 13 March 1940. His father, Louis, was a mechanic. His mother, Caroline, was described by Johanneson as the parent who “taught the family” while his father was responsible for passing on “the ways of the street” (Harrison 2012, p. 44). In 1965 Johanneson became the first black footballer to play in an English FA (Football Association) Cup final.

Johanneson s first sporting love was running but he also developed his ball control skills by teaching himself tricks and flicks with tennis balls on the streets of Germiston He soon began to attract crowds to watch his ball control routines using his feet and other parts of his body After one of Johanneson s street exhibition sessions he was invited to play for Shamrocks a local football club This was Johanneson s first game ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

soccer player, was born Cobi N’gai Jones in Detroit, Michigan, to Dr. Freeman Jones, a research chemist, and Mada Jones (maiden name unknown), a high school teacher. Not long after his birth, Jones and his elder brother moved with their parents to Westlake Village, an affluent community near Los Angeles, California, where Jones would grow up and hone his skills, competing in San Fernando Valley recreational soccer programs from the age of five. His parents, while supportive of Jones's interest in sports and academics, shared the skepticism of many Americans toward soccer, which was perceived as a game for Europeans and Latin Americans. Moreover, even though the black Brazilian Pele symbolized the 1970s National American Soccer League, the league featured no African American stars. Jones's dedication to the sport eventually persuaded his parents to support his choice of soccer.

After lettering in soccer and track at Westlake High from ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

athlete and administrator, was born on 3 September 1951 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. His father was Alexander Jordaan, and his mother was Magdalene. They belonged to the colored ethnic community, which primarily consisted of people of mixed African and European descent. While the colored community was treated as a separate racial category from other Africans under the apartheid South African racist government, Jordaan still faced discrimination, such as housing segregation, as he grew up. As a student at the University of the Western Cape in the early 1970s, he joined the South African Students Association (SASO), and became deeply influenced by the cultural nationalism of SASO's Black Consciousness movement. Steve Biko, SASO's leader and a pioneer of Black Consciousness, had a profound influence on Jordaan. Jordaan chose to become a secondary school teacher, and taught at a number of schools, including Arcadia Senior Secondary School in 1979 ...

Article

Togolese soccer player, was born on 8 April 1979 in the large Togolese city of Sokodé. His affluent Muslim family claimed royal descent. In Sokodé, Touré grew up with two other future professional football players: his brother Coubadja Touré and his cousin Mam Chérif Touré. He attended Qurʾanic school as well as primary school and already was a passionate football player as a child. By the age of sixteen, he had become a major Togolese soccer prospect. His family and schoolmates were somewhat surprised by his decision to join the Étoile Filant club of Sokodé’s rival city of Lomé in 1995. Despite his young age, Touré became one of the top players on the team, praised for his goal-scoring ability. He played in Tunisia for the CA Bizertin club in the 1997–1998 season. In 1998 Touré joined the Coupe d Afrique championships with the Togolese national team He ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

soccer player, was born in Owerri, Nigeria on 1 August 1976. His parents belonged to the Igbo ethnic community, and his surname Nwankwo means “son of Nkwo's day,” as many Igbo children were traditionally named after the Igbo name of the day they were born. Kanu's father ran an automobile supply business, and Kanu's family hoped he would become an engineer. By early adolescence Kanu demonstrated a flair for scoring on the soccer field. He joined the Federal Ministry of Works local team, a local soccer club, and used some of the money to pay for his schoolbooks. Making 8,000 naira a month meant he could help support the family. He went to the Holy Ghost College secondary school. After Kanu's stint with the Federal Ministry of Works, he joined the Nigerian premier soccer league team Iwuanyanwu Nationale as a sixteen-year-old for the 1992–1993 season. In 1993 ...