Andre Onana joins handful of African goalkeepers in Premier League

New Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana

FILE - New Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Published Jul 22, 2023


Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana looks set to be Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper next season.

He will have big shoes to fill as he will succeed David de Gea, a man who in his prime was regarded as United’s best player and the best goalkeeper in the world.

Africa has not been short of footballers in almost every position at the best clubs in the world. However, the Premier League has been short of African goalkeepers — only a few made the cut. It must be noted no South African has played as a shot-stopper in the Premier League in the modern era.

While Bafana Bafana legend Andre Arendse had a spell with Fulham, his appearances for the club were during the London outfit’s time in the second tier of English football.

We take a look at the greatest African goalkeepers to have played in the Premier League…

Richard Kingson

The former Ghana national team No 1 was not the most consistent of shot-stoppers, but could pull out a quality performance on his day. This was perhaps why Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic and Blackpool saw value in him. Kingson is best remembered for being a member of Ghana’s 2006 and 2010 World Cup squads. In 2010, he also helped Ghana reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Edouard Mendy

For many years, African goalkeepers were overlooked for Premier League opportunities, but Mendy proved that keepers from the continent are indeed capable. He played a starring role in helping Chelsea win the 2021 Champions League through a challenging period for the Blues.

After losing his position as the firstchoice keeper to Kepa Arrizabalaga, the man he initially dispatched, Mendy has since joined Saudi club Al-Ahli. Overall, his two-and-a-half-year spell at Stamford Bridge was a success.

Carl Ikeme

The English-born former Nigerian international had an interesting sojourn up north. He spent his entire professional career on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers, in between several loan spells and watching the club yo-yo between the Premier League, Championship, and even a season in League One.

After being diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2017, Ikeme opted to retire from professional football the following year at the age of 32.

Bruce Grobbelaar

The controversial Durban-born Zimbabwean is the most successful player from Africa to have kept goal in the English top flight.

Sadly, his legacy has been hurt by allegations of match-fixing and bad sportsmanship, which even included an assault on former Liverpool teammate Steve McManaman during a Merseyside derby in the 1993-94 season.

The eccentric shot-stopper kept goal for the Reds between 1981 and 1994. Grobbelaar later took to coaching in South Africa, which included stints with the likes of Hellenic and SuperSport United. In 2001, while coaching Hellenic, he brought himself onto the pitch, in the process becoming the oldest player to have played in the South African top flight, aged 44.

This record eventually went on to be broken by Arendse, who served as an emergency stand-in goalkeeper at Wits in 2012 as the club had no first-team keepers available due to injuries and suspension.


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