Some call it the round leather game, others call it the beautiful game but the traditional name is association football. But whatever you call it, it is 90 exciting minutes of sweat and passion worth billions of dollars annually.
Exactly 10 years after Jay Jay Okocha won the 2004 edition, the impact of African players on the European football scene has continued to grow as numerous Africans have made their mark in the Premiership, La Liga and Serie A to mention a few. And in recognition of the contributions of these African footballers, the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), in 1992, introduced a special award christened BBC African Sports Star of The Year Award, for African football players plying their trade in Europe. Now known as the BBC African Footballer of the Year Award, five finalists are poised to slug it out for the 2014 edition. Among them are two of Africa’s best, Vincent Enyeama of Nigeria and Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast, who are widely seen as top contenders. In this week’s Showdown, Enyeama and Toure lock horns as football gurus determine which of the pair deserves to win the 2014 edition of the award as the world awaits the unveiling of the winner on Monday, December 1.
Akwa Ibom State born Vincent Enyeama is the first choice goalkeeper for Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles. Born on August 29, 1982, and standing at 1.8m, Enyeama, who is currently plying his trade at Lille OSC has an intimidating career profile no doubt! He was called to the Super Eagles in May 2002 and hit national consciousness when he substituted Nigeria’s then first choice, Ike Shorunmu. Following his scintillating outing at Enyimba International club, which he helped to clinch the African Champions League title back-to-back in 2003 and 2004, Enyeama moved to the Israeli league where he played for Bnei Yehuda and later, Hapoel Tel Aviv, before proceeding to Lille in 2011. While in Israel, he clinched the Israeli League and won two cups with Hapoel Tel Aviv. Last season at Lille, he kept 11 consecutive clean sheets during the first half of the 2013/2014 season and as well achieved 21 shut-outs, more than any other goalkeeper in the top five European leagues. And in May, 2014, he became the first goalkeeper to be named the French League 1 African Player of The Season. His outing with the Super Eagles at the 2013 African Nations Cup in South Africa earned Nigeria the cup while he emerged The Best Goalkeeper of The Tournament. And few months after his sterling performance at the Brazil 2014 World Cup Finals, he was named world’s Fourth Best Goalkeeper.
African Footballer of The Year 2013, Ivory Coast and Manchester City of England play maker, Gnegneri Yaya Toure aka, Yaya Toure is an indigene of Bouake, Ivory Coast. The Ivorian midfielder who is 1.88 meters tall was born in May, 1983. He started his football career with junior Ivorian club side, ASEC Mimosas, in 1996, at age 18. In 2001, he moved to the senior category and played for Belgian club, Beveren, Ukrainian Metalurh Donetsk FC, Olympiacos of Greece, AS Monaco of France, Bacelona of Spain and Manchester City of England where he has been since 2010. He has over 85 caps for Ivory Coast with 16 goals while his appearance for Manchester City is above 140 with over 39 goals. Toure was voted African Footballer of The Year for 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. While in Bacelona, his club side won six trophies in 2009 alone. He was nominated for The Personality of The Year Award at the MTV Africa Music Awards in July 2014. He was also nominated for the Prize in Entertainment category at the 2014 edition of The Future Africa Awards.
…And the people’s verdict:
It’s Enyeama –Uwuyi Sam, student
Enyeama deserves it. He is a hardworking and cool-headed player with sterling leadership qualities. However, Yaya Toure is also a fantastic player with enviable temperament but Enyeama should carry the day.
I love Enyeama –Hanna Lawal, undergraduate
I just love Vincent Enyeama and everything about him. He is handsome and gorgeously sexy. Apart from that, he is a great goalkeeper. I voted for him last Friday; they should just allow him to take the award.
The award is for Yaya Toure – George Adebayo, businessman
I wouldn’t have hesitated before voting for Enyeama and even canvassing for votes for him before now but after the disappointing outing of the Super Eagles during the just concluded AFCON qualifiers, I have little or no love for all team. If I had my way I would advice President Jonathan to disband the team out-rightly. Please, the award is for Yaya Toure.
It is Nigeria’s turn to win –Melford Okilo, designer
My take is simple. It is true that Yaya Toure is a fantastic and a handsome player but Vincent Enyeama is better endowed so we should give it to him.
I want Enyeama –Tina Ugwumba, accountant
I have been secretly dying for Enyeama. Hßad I known about the award earlier, I would have gone out of my way to garner votes for him. But unfortunately, I only got the information less than two hours before voting closed; thank God that I was able to vote. True speaking, if Enyeama were not married, I would have deployed everything at my disposal to steal his heart!
Enyeama deserves it! –Efuroye Tinubu, wannabe footballer
Both of them are in top form at their club levels and national teams. But Enyeama deserves the award more than Toure because Enyeama has won more trophies in the recent past so we should appreciate him by presenting the award to him. I am not saying this because he is a Nigerian but because he sincerely deserves it.
Enyeama is at his peak –Patrick Osondu, football coach
As a football coach, I want to tell you that Enyeama has hit his climax; he is at the peak of his career as a goalkeeper. After this period, his career will likely start witnessing gradual decline so, winning would be a big boost for him. And judging from his current form, I think he deserves the award.
Yaya Toure man to beat –Virgy Linga, model
Yaya Toure is the man to beat. He has been awesome at Man City. He is also sexier and cuter than Enyeama. I and my siblings voted for Toure and we are hopeful that he will emerge the winner at the end of the day.
I’ll vote for physique not career – Okocha Nancy, undergraduate
As for me, I will not even consider career achievements before voting but their looks. Enyeama’s frame is sexier than Toure’s. And judging from the little knowledge I have of soccer shows, Enyeama has been more consistent in form than Yaya Toure.
Still shocked over AFCON exit –Quinnet Egeih, undergraduate
How can you ask such a question at this point in time when Nigerians are still mourning the disappointing exit of the Super Eagles from next year’s AFCON? It is a big disgrace and I am still in great shock!
Enyeama has Edge –Demola Adedeji, undergraduate
Enyeama is the rightful winner. He has a very big edge over Toure because besides his ability to make vital saves, he also scores decisive goals. Remember that while playing in Israel, he scored a total of 23 goals through penalties and free kicks. He has achieved so much within the year under review.
Beware of Nigerian fans – Lizy Ekpemchi, corps member
I would advise you to thread softly while carrying out interviews of this nature. You must be careful while selecting those you want to interview. Nigerians are predominantly football enthusiast and they could harm you if you fail to thread softly.
Enyeama sexiest Super Eagles player –Adaeze Florence, undergraduate
Enyeama is one of the sexiest men among the present crop of Super Eagles players. Though he is handsome but his calm nature has endeared him to me more; he deserves the crown.
God will secure victory for Enyeama –Bola Awoniyi, teacher
I see Vincent Enyeama as a good Christian. I always watch him lead the Super Eagles in prayers before and after their games. I believe that the successes he has been enjoying are as a result of his closeness to God. And I believe that the same God will surely secure victory for him
Enyeama has all it takes to win – Israel Tobechukwu
Enyeama has all it takes to coast home to victory. And I believe that if the exercise is 100 based on merit, Enyeama will surely win; he is a fantastic keeper. And for him to have emerged the best goalkeeper in Africa and the fourth in the world shows that he is divinely favoured.
Yaya Toure is my choice –Love Anyanso, student
I know that many Nigerians would prefer voting for Enyeama just because he is a Nigerian. But by rating, Toure is the better candidates for the award. He is my preferred candidate; my choice.
The award not only about Vincent Enyeama and Yaya Toure –Uguru Benjamine, footballer
Everybody is just talking about Vincent Enyeama and Yaya Toure as if BBC has narrowed the contenders to only two slots. But while it is true that the pair’s forms were outstanding during the season under review, people should realise that in sports, anything can happen at any time. So, people should desist from rushing into conclusion.