FT's 10 Best Moments of 2018: #8 The world's brightest talent still rooted in Africa
At FirstTouch, we have a saying that goes like, “a year is never over until we close it.” In the spirit of that ideal, we took our time to look back at the ten most defining moments of 2018, as far as African football is concerned. Could you guess what they are? We are now on number 8.
The year 2018 happened to be one of the most exciting ones in this decade as far as talent is concerned. In many ways than one, we were reminded of why Africa is the number one unending source of the biggest and the brightest football talent in the whole world.
It’s with pride that we recall the exploits of one Kylian Mbappe for example. A world cup winning teenager, even scoring in the final thereby earning the FIFA Young Player Of The Tournament Award, just some of the achievements and accolades bestowed on the young lad. Of course he is French but you can never takeaway his African roots after being born to a Cameroonian father and a French mother. Ousmane Dembele is similarly a French player of African descent who made the news both positively and negatively just like any other story of a young, growing and top talented player. Even closer to home are the likes of Ivorian Nicolas Pepe who has been leading the charge for Lille OSC in the French Ligue 1, scoring ten goals in sixteen games so far in the league. Pepe has had Europe’s clubs such as Arsenal on high alert for the prospect of securing his coveted services.
Furthermore, more than the dominance of Africa in the talent pool, immigrants everywhere were gifted with a big win after France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup triumph. With five of Les Blues’ starting XI in the world cup being players of African heritage, the world was once again reminded of how much we can do, together – not separated by racial lines or differing identities. Even the likes of Belgium who made it all the way through to the semi-finals, eventually finishing 3rd in Russia had a decent amount of children of immigrant parents in their ranks to stir their campaign. Notable mentions go to the likes of Belgium’s historic leading goal scorer in Romelu Lukaku, Nacer Chadli and Vincent Kompany. Even England was boosted by the likes of Dele Alli born to a Nigerian father and so did other not so celebrated participants such as Denmark who had Uganda born Pione Sisto adding some wings to their attack.
The timeless fact of globalization and its benefits was rehashed and Africans persistently seen in places of glory.