Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was named as the 2015 African Footballer of the Year, beating Yaya Toure to the award when the winner was unveiled at the Confederation of African Football award ceremony on Thursday.
The Borussia Dortmund striker is the first player from the central African country country to win the award.
His accolade comes despite a year without any trophy success. He was captain of the Gabon team eliminated in the first round of the African Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea at the start of 2015 and his club finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season.
But he did score a prolific 29 Bundesliga goals in 2015, including 18 this season plus a further seven in the Europa League. He is the first Bundesliga-based player to win the annual award first introduced in 1970.
“His potency in front of goal has seen become one of the most recognizable strikers in Europe this season,” said his citation.
“I thank the people of Gabon, this award is for them. I’m very happy to be the first Gabonese to win the award. I want to thank my teammates in the national team and also at Dortmund. It is their work that helps me to score goals. For the parents of the youth of Africa, please give your kids a chance to realise their dreams,” Aubameyang said in his acceptance speech.
The 26-year-old Aubameyang is the second player born in Europe to win the award after Frederick Kanoute, the Parisian-born Mali international.
Aubameyang’s father was captain of Gabon and played professionally in France. His mother is Spanish, he was born in France but raised in Italy.
The African Footballer of the Year is decided by a vote of coaches or technical directors of all African countries’ national teams.
Toure had won the award for an unprecedented four years in a row from 2011-2015 and was the favourite for a fifth after captaining the Ivory Coast to the African Nations Cup title.
Finishing third was Dede Ayew, the Ghanaian international who left Olympique Marseille in France for Swansea City in mid-year. His father Abedi Pele won the award three times from 1991 to 1993.