Egypt international, Mohamed Salah on Thursday night clinched the 2017 CAF African Player of the Year award following exploits for his English Premier League side and the Egyptian national team.
The Liverpool flying winger takes home the award for the first time ever, as he managed to defeat competition from fellow finalists Sadio Mane of Senegal and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the awards ceremony in Accra.
For the female category, Super Falcons forward Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria won her third Women’s Player of the Year prize, beating Cameroon’s Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and Chrestina Kgatlana of South Africa to the top prize. Oshoala previously won the award in 2014 and 2016.
“It’s been truly an emotional journey through 2017,” an emotional Oshoala said after picking her award. “I must say this is one of the special moment in my career because when I left Arsenal and moved to China a lot of people said that, Asisat your career is going to be gone but I told myself that I can do this and I think I have done that. I want to use this opportunity to encourage all the young girls do not let anyone talk you down, don’t listen to anyone, just follow your heart.”
Oshoala moved to Dalian Quanjian of China at the beginning of last season after enduring a not-so-successful period in England with Liverpool and Arsenal Ladies. In her first season in China, she notched 12 goals including a brace in the final game of the season. Her exploits earned Quanjian a league and Cup double and she was crowned the League’s Best Striker.
The award gala took place in Ghana inside the beautiful International Conference Centre in Accra with a host of former award winners on parade. The event which was sponsored by the Aiteo group was filled with glamour as a fine core of music artistes light up the stage in a well-timed and organised show
Salah had a stunning campaign for Liverpool in 2017 as he scored 17 goals in 21 games after joining the English Premier League side from AS Roma, a team he helped finish second in the Serie A behind Juventus, scoring 15goals with 11 assists.
On the international scene, the 25-year-old helped Egypt to a second place finish at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, including goals against Ghana and Burkina Faso. His brace against Congo in October helped the Pharaoh qualify for their first FIFA World Cup since 1990 to round off a sensational year.
According to him, “It’s never easy to win a big award like that.
“It’s an honour for me to be nominated with these two great players tonight.”
Salah described winning the award as a “dream come true”, before dedicating the accolade to “the children in Egypt and Africa … to remind them to never stop dreaming and never stop believing in themselves”.