Sat, Jan 09, 2016 - Page 19 News List

Aubameyang named African Footballer of the Year

Reuters, ABUJA

From left, Ghana’s Andre Ayew, Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure wait for the announcement of the winner of the 2015 African Footballer of the Year award in Abuja on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was named African Footballer of the Year on Thursday, narrowly edging out Yaya Toure at the Confederation of African Football award ceremony.

The prolific Borussia Dortmund forward, who received 143 votes to four-time winner Toure’s 136, is the first player from the central African country to win the award.

His accolade comes despite a year without trophy success. He was captain of the Gabon team eliminated in the first round of the African Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea at the start of last year and his club finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season.

However, he did score 29 Bundesliga goals last year, including 18 this season, plus a further seven in the Europa League. He is the first Bundesliga-based player to win the annual award, first introduced in 1970.

“His potency in front of goal has seen him become one of the most recognizable strikers in Europe this season,” his citation said.

“I thank the people of Gabon, this award is for them. I want to thank my teammates in the national team and also at Dortmund. It is their work that helps me to score goals. For the parents of the youth of Africa, please give your kids a chance to realize their dreams,” Aubameyang said in his acceptance speech.

The 26-year-old is the second player born in Europe to win the award after Frederic Kanoute, the Parisian-born Mali international.

Aubameyang’s father was captain of Gabon and played professionally in France.

His mother is Spanish. He was born in France, but raised in Italy.

The African Footballer of the Year is decided by a vote of coaches or technical directors of all Africa’s national teams.

Toure had won the award for an unprecedented four years in succession from 2011 to last year and was the favorite for a fifth after captaining Ivory Coast to the African Nations Cup title.

Ghana international Dede Ayew, who left Olympique de Marseille in France for Swansea City in mid-year, was third with 112 votes.

His father Abedi Pele won the award three times from 1991 to 1993.

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