Top 5 African Goalkeeping Legends

Goalkeepers are the last line of defense, they orchestrate play from the back and save their teams from conceding whenever possible.

African countries in the past have produced top-class goalkeeper over the past couple of years and as a matter of fact, become role models to European goalkeepers who made them their source of inspiration.

Although the number of African goalkeepers plying their trade in Europe can be counted on the tip of fingers due to competition and lack of opportunities, some paid their dues in the past and broke new grounds for the present generation and fortunately, some of them are still active.

In this write up we take a look at the top 5 African goalkeeping legends in no particular order.


Carlos Kameni (425 Caps)

Country: Cameroon




Although Cameroon may possess a whole lot of goalkeeping legends, Carlos Kameni managed to register his name on the already long list of top goalkeepers to have come out of the Central African country.

Kameni took a tight grip on the number one shirt of the Cameroon national team debuting at the age of 19 and he appeared for the Indomitable Lions in over 70 appearances and made his name in Spanish La Liga where he played for Espanyol and Malaga before he went to Fenerbache.

He featured at three FIFA World Cups and six African Cup of Nations winning the title in 2002 and also runners up finish at the 2003 Confederations Cup after a Gold medal win at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.


Vincent Enyeama ( 607 Caps)

Country: Nigeria




Recently, Vincent Enyeama insinuated his legendary status by stating he conquered Africa during his playing career and rightly so he did at the club level and on the national team level.

He won the CAF Champions League trophy twice with Enyimba international of Aba in 2003 and 2004 before he took his trade to Europe. He also won the Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles in 2013 after several third-place finishes.

Also, he is known for his goal-scoring trait scoring ten goals at Enyimba and nine for Hapoel Tel Aviv including a couple in their UEFA Champions League sojourn.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa shot him to world prominence after a spectacular performance against Lionel Messi and Argentina. He also holds the second position on the list of the longest clean sheet record in the French League after going on 11,062 minutes without conceding, a total of 11 games consecutively.

Thomas Nkono ( 637 caps )

Country: Cameroon




N’Kono appeared for the Cameroon national team in three World Cups, and four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments winning the trophy in 1984. The goalkeeper was known for acrobatic saves, the high speed which made him appreciated.

He had over three hundred appearances for Espanyol in over a decade and over 500 in his club career that included Canon Yaounde where he won two CAF Champions League and his last club in Club Bolivia, also had over 100 appearances for the national team.

Nkono became a source of inspiration for the young and upcoming goalkeeper, he returned to his main club as a goalkeeping coach, helping develop young talent and countryman Carlos Kameni.

Gianluigi Buffon once said he decided to be a goalkeeper after seeing N’Kono’s performances at the 1990 World Cup. In addition, he named his first son Louis Thomas in the Cameroonian’s honor.


Essam El Hadary ( 1028 Caps)

Country: Egypt




Looking for one of Africa’s most decorated goalkeepers, Essam El-Hadary is definitely on top of the pile. The Egyptian legend was part of the Egyptian generation of players that won 3 back to back Africa Cup of Nation titles from 2006 to 2010, winning four in total and another final appearance in 2017 in Gabon.

He also featured at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, his only appearance for any European club was with Sion in Switzerland but he won several titles with his club Al-Ahly of Egypt including 8 Egyptian league titles, Four Egyptian cups, four super cups, and Four CAF Champions League titles.

In 2018 when Egypt qualified for its first FIFA World Cup in a long time, Essam broke the record for the oldest goalkeeper and player to play in the FIFA World Cup after coming on for a group game in Russia 2018 at the age of 45years, beating the record set by Colombian goalkeeper Faryd Mondrag√≥n in the previous edition of the tournament. He is also the third player on Egypt’s all-time appearance record. He is still active playing for Nogoom in the Egyptian League where he has 3 appearances this season.


Joseph Antoine Belle (366 Caps)

Cameroon




Another Cameroonian who is well respected for his Goalkeeping skills, Bell had a respectable club career with several foreign club sides including Bordeaux, Saint Etienne, Marseille amongst others making over 300 appearances

He played for Cameroon making 91 appearances and also played at the 1984 Summer Olympics and was on Cameroon’s winning team in the 1984 and 1988 African Cup of Nations although he was behind Nkono for a long time making the trip to the FIFA World Cup three times before making his debut in 1994 playing two group games.

Other names that are worth mentioning are Acquis Songo’o who had close to hundred caps for the Indomitable Lions and played and won the La Liga with Deportivo La Coruna before moving to Metz. Peter Rufai also had a respectable career with the Nigerian national team.

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