By Duncan Mlanjira
Gabon’s Spanish-born striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was voted as 2015 African Player of the Year award, overthrowing English Premier League’s Manchester City and Cote d’Ivoire’s international player Yaya Toure, who had dominated the accolade for four consecutive years since 2011.
He received the award on Thursday night at the Confederation of African Football (Caf) gala held in Nigeria. Aubameyang, who captained Gabon national football team at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, also beat strong contender to the award, Ghana’s international Dede Ayew, son to former Black Stars legend Abedi Ayew Pele, who won the award three times from 1991 to 1993.
The 26-year-old Aubameyang, who plays for German side Borrusia Dortmund and is linked with a move to English Premier League’s Arsenal, received 143 votes from coaches and technical directors from all Caf affiliates against Toure’s 136 and Ayew’s 112.
He is the second players born in Europe to win the after Frederic Kanoute, who was born in Paris, France but chose to play for his African roots Mali national team.
According to Wikipedia, Aubameyang’s father is also a former Gabon international, who played professional football in France, who married a Spanish woman. Young Aubameyang was born in France but raised in Italy.
Aubameyang, who scored 29 goals in the Bundesliga in 2014-15 and 18 this season as well as seven in Europa League, was one of the most talked about player at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Other winners of the accolade include Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o (four times), Cote d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba (twice), Senegal’s El Hadji Diouf (twice), Nigeria’s Kanu Nwankwo (twice), Cameroon’s Patrick Mboma, Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor, Cameroon’s Roger Milla, Zambian Kalusha Bwalya and Liberia’s George Weah (twice), who also became the first African to win the World Player of the Year award.
Also at the award gala night, Tanzanian Mbwana Samatta was voted African Player of the Year-based in Africa while Frenchman Herve Renard, who lead two African nations to win the Afcon (Zambia in 2012 and Cote d’Ivoire in 2015, was voted Coach of the Year.
Cameroon’s Gaelle Enganamouit was voted best Women Player of the Year while Nigerian Etebo Oghenekaro received the Most Promising Talent award.