Africa's most charitable footballers

Africa’s most charitable footballers

Words: James Freemantle
Photo: Getty Images

Many of Africa’s finest footballers are humble enough to use their standing in the game to give back and make a difference to communities close to their hearts. Here are some of them

The beautiful game is lucky to have such esteemed ambassadors in its ranks because for many young people in Africa, these footballers are superheroes:

  • Didier Drogba
  • Michael Essien
  • Nwankwo Kanu
  • Samuel Eto’o 
  • Joseph Yobo
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Didier Drogba

One of Chelsea’s favourite sons is revered for being the man who won the London club their first ever Champions League title. Drogba’s imposing presence on the pitch is now mirrored by the positive influence felt through his considerable humanitarian efforts.

The Didier Drogba Foundation is funded by the player’s large endorsement deals and these funds are distributed to healthcare and charity projects. Over and above these efforts, Drogba is pivotal to numerous humanitarian causes in the Ivory Coast including the building of a $3m hospital. 

Didier Drogba is widely regarded as one of the greatest African footballers in history. His dressing room pleas in October 2005 (after helping his nation qualify for the 2006 World Cup) that brought about the end of civil war in the Ivory Coast will see Drogba go down not only as as a great footballer, but as an iconic Ivorian. 

Michael Essien

‘The Bison’ represented some of the biggest clubs in Europe and he was a driving force for Ghana, too, before injuries curtailed his impressive career. The Michael Essien Foundation provides basic infrastructure in Awutu Breku, Michael’s home town. The Foundation has extended its work to providing clean water for residents through a borehole system, as well as healthcare and hygiene services.

The Michael Essien Foundation also has a vested interest in education and women’s empowerment through the provision of library facilities for young and old Ghanaians who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford those luxuries. 

Nwankwo Kanu

One of the true cult figures in Premier League history for Arsenal, the lanky Nigerian also represented Ajax and Inter Milan during a glittering and highly-decorated career.

It could have all gone very differently for Kanu, however, after Italian doctors identified serious defects with the player’s heart when he was only 20. Following a rapid recovery, Nwankwo set up the Kanu Heart Foundation so that Nigerian children with heart defects could receive corrective surgery. 

© youtube // CGTN Africa

The Foundation has carried out open heart surgeries in Israel, England and India and Kanu’s aim is to raise enough money to build a specialist facility in Nigeria. 

It’s beautifully fitting that a man who struggled with heart problems ended up having one of the biggest hearts in world football. 

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Samuel Eto’o 

The Baby-Faced Assassin enjoyed an illustrious career for that fabled Barcelona team and is a total gentleman off the pitch. Universally respected as one of the most lethal strikers in the modern game, Eto’o’s wide appeal and influence is obvious.

The Samuel Eto’o Foundation was designed for children in West Africa and ripple effects of its positive work are felt in healthcare, education & social inclusion through sports. 

Joseph Yobo

Any regular watcher of the Premier League in the early 2000s would have undoubtedly enjoyed the consistent displays of Nigerian stalwart Joseph Yobo. Most notably a rock-solid centre back for Everton over 9 years, Yobo also has an eye for giving back.

The Joseph Yobo Foundation has handed out educational scholarships in Nigeria to help educational development from primary school right through to the tertiary level.

My foundation is in partnership with Sisters ...

My foundation is in partnership with Sisters Cities Rehab and the Nigerian Prisons Service to give inmates another chance #FootballStarsBehindBars

Joseph has also built a football academy which he hopes will educate young Nigerians about the beautiful game. 

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01 2017 The Red Bulletin

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