When Sadio Mane steps onto the Signal Iduna Park pitch for Matchday 9’s Klassiker with Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich’s Senegal international superstar will join an elite club of African players to feature in the Bundesliga’s biggest fixture.
Mane has yet to make his mark on Der Klassiker, but it is inevitable he will. The 30-year-old showed during his six-year spell at Liverpool he has a handy knack of finding the net on big occasions: eight goals in 16 English Premier League matches versus Arsenal, seven in 16 against Manchester City, six in the same number of encounters with Chelsea, and five in 15 Merseyside derbies with Everton.
The reigning two-time African Footballer of the Year got his hands on Premier League, UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, English FA Cup and Carabao Cup winner’s medals while at Anfield. This, along with the back-to-back Austrian doubles he won at Salzburg and the five goals he scored to power his country’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations win, all proves Mane is a man for the big stage, and there’s none bigger in the Bundesliga than Der Klassiker
Watch: World Star: Sadio Mane
Anthony Yeboah was the first African to finish as the Bundesliga’s top scorer when he shared the award in 1992/93. He repeated the feat the following campaign – incredibly, sharing it again – before going on to net a total of 96 times in 223 games for Eintracht Frankfurt and Hamburg. The Ghanaian’s name was knocked down the pecking order, however, when Aubameyang exploded into the German top flight in 2013.
The Gabon international still holds the continent’s top scoring mark with 98 strikes in just 144 league matches, 31 of which came in a bountiful 2016/17 when he became the first African to win the Torjägerkanone outright. He also won the DFB Cup that season having found the net in BVB’s 3-2 semi-final win in Munich.
He had also scored in Dortmund’s 2014/15 DFB Cup semi-final victory at the Allianz Arena, but Der Klassiker wasn’t always kind to the current Chelsea forward: he found the net only twice and tasted defeat on six of his nine Bundesliga encounters with Bayern. One of his two league victories was notable though – his early goal in Dortmund gave Thomas Tuchel’s men a 1-0 victory on Matchday 11 in November 2016.
Watch: Aubameyang claims Der Klassiker for Dortmund
3) Samuel Kuffour (1993-2005)
Club: Bayern Munich
The image of the Ghanaian beating the Camp Nou turf with his fists following Manchester United’s comic-book comeback to beat Bayern in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League final is the image that springs to most people’s minds when they hear his name.
But he is also known as being one of the Bundesliga’s all-time great centre-backs. With six Bundesliga titles and four DFB Cup wins to his name, Kuffour is the most-decorated African footballer in German top-flight history, and he exorcised the demons of Barcelona with a penalty shoot-out victory over Valencia in the 2000/01 Champions League final.
Kuffour, who named his son Munich in honour of the city where he played for 12 years, may boast the most silverware, but he wasn’t the first African Bundesliga champion. That honour goes to a Dortmund trio, Ibrahim Tanko, Yahaya Mallam – both from Ghana – and South Africa-born Marc Arnold, who finished top of the table in 1994/95. Tanko scored that season aged 17 years and 250 days, and remains the youngest African to find the net in the Bundesliga.
4) Mohamed Zidan (2008-12)
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Zidan actually made his Dortmund debut in Der Klassiker, playing for over an hour in the 1-1 draw on Matchday 2 shortly after his move from Hamburg in summer 2008.
The Egypt international’s spell in black-and-yellow did not always deliver on its promise, but he ended with two Bundesliga winner’s medals even if injury meant he struggled to make a regular contribution. They also meant he watched Dortmund’s three Klassiker victories while he was with them from the sidelines, losing three of the four encounters he featured in on the pitch.
5) Pablo Thiam (2001-2003)
Club: Bayern Munich
Though born in the Guinean capital Conakry, Thiam grew up in Germany where his father was a diplomat in the former capital Bonn. His performances at Cologne and then VfB Stuttgart earned him a move to Bayern that brought him the FIFA Club World Cup and a Bundesliga title.
He racked up 310 Bundesliga appearances across his career – an African record in German football – but only 16 of those came for Bayern, and only one in Der Klassiker: He came off the bench late on as Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side won 2-0 at BVB on Matchday 5 of the 2001/02 season.
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