The draw for the FA Cup Third Round is imminent, with this weekend seeing the Second Round take place up and down the country. Today, we are going back to 1953 to look at the most famous African players to lift the FA Cup, and who has done so on most occasions.
- 1 Who was the first African player to be part of an FA Cup final-winning team?
- 2 How many African players have won an FA Cup final?
- 3 Which African nation has the most FA Cup final winners?
- 4 Who are the African players to watch in the 2023/24 FA Cup?
- 5 Who is the standout African player for the 2023/24 FA Cup?
Who was the first African player to be part of an FA Cup final-winning team?
It was back in 1953 during the ‘Matthews Final' between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers – in which the legendary Stanley Matthews scored a hat-trick – when the continent of Africa started its love affair with the FA Cup. South African-born Bill Perry etched his name into history by scoring a 92nd-minute winner for Blackpool to secure a 4-3 victory.
Blackpool came from 3-1 down and thanks to both Matthews and Perry, the Tangerines were able to defy the odds and lift the FA Cup but it would be 33 years before another African player would lift the FA Cup.
How many African players have won an FA Cup final?
Since Bill Perry, the FA Cup has been held aloft by 54 different African players, totalling up to 14 different nations over the years and have produced some truly memorable moments. Some of the world's best players have won the FA Cup, including Ballon d'Or winner George Weah, Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and superstar Yaya Toure.
Which African nation has the most FA Cup final winners?
Out of the 14 different countries to have had players win the FA Cup over the years, Ivory Coast and Nigeria have had the most winners with 13 each. Those winners include the likes of Drogba, Hal-Robson Kanu, Alex Iwobi and Salomon Kalou.
Who are the African players to watch in the 2023/24 FA Cup?
Mohammed Salah is the star of African football and has been for some time, so the eyes of a continent will likely be on him whenever he takes to the field for Liverpool. However, he does indeed boast a pretty poor record in the competition with just five goals in 11 appearances, while also not ever being the man to score the winning goal in an FA Cup game.
While Salah does face the risk of rotation, his goalscoring ability suggests he doesn't need many minutes to get on the scoresheet and if the Reds pick up some difficult ties, Klopp could be forced to thrust Salah in from the start.
The Senegalese striker has had a tough start to life as Chelsea's main striker with an XG in the Premier League of 7.8, while he's found the back of the net just six times, underperforming by almost 2.0, but with Christopher Nkunku soon due back, Jackson may take a back seat in the league and instead, lead the line in the FA Cup, potentially against lower oppositions.
If he finds the back of the net in the cup, it may well boost his confidence in the league and with six goals in 10 league starts he does know where the back of the net is, it just usually requires multiple chances for him to beat the goalkeeper, which he may get against a lower ranked team in the Third Round.
The Man United academy graduate looked to be the next best thing to come into the first-team when he came off the bench against Brighton and scored a stunning goal during a 3-1 defeat, but since then he's started just two games. He did start all of the club's Carabao Cup games before exiting, so the FA Cup is likely to be his best chance of starring and earning the trust of Erik ten Hag.
Still just 20 years old he has a long career ahead of him, but getting minutes and experiencing a deep run in the FA Cup could be what's needed to boost his confidence and authority within a relatively below-standard Man United side.
Since Ivan Toney was suspended by the FA, Bryan Mbeumo has stepped up massively to help carry the load of Brentford's goalscoring duties. Nine goal involvements across 13 Premier League matches suggest he's in the form of his life at Brentford. The Cameroonian has three goals in two FA Cup appearances so certainly relishes the competition, some favourable draws could help Brentford's run to the final and even get Mbeumo into the top scorer conversation.
Who is the standout African player for the 2023/24 FA Cup?
Salah does indeed have just two goals to his name in the FA Cup as he's very often rested for this competition. He is certain to miss this season's third round due to AFCON involvement with an Egypt side tipped to go far in the next edition.
For that reason, other African stars could be where to look for better value. And given that Chelsea have no European football to contend with, Nicolas Jackson to finish as the competition's top scorer may well be a very solid choice, especially if he's going to be on restricted minutes in the league compared to Nkunku.