7th. Joel Tiehi (CF)

Without doubt one of the greatest strikers, Ivory Coast has ever produced. Joel Tiehi kicked off his professional career with Ivorian club Stade d’Abidjan in 1984 at the age of 19. In his three seasons with the club, he would help them to the Coupe Houphouet Boigny title in 1985. Tiehi made the move to France after catching the attention Didier Notheaux who was at that time in charge of 2nd tier club, Le Havre AC.

In his 7 years with Le Havre, he would go on to make more than 150 appearances for the club in all competitions & scoring 60+ goals in them. Tiehi helped the club to the 1991 Ligue 2 title & remained with them till their relegation to the 3rd tier in 1994. Following his departure from Le Havre, Tiehi made the jump back to the French Ligue 1 to feature for RC Lens. Upon leaving Lens in 1996, Tiehi would go on to feature for as many 5 clubs in a span of 6 years before eventually calling it a day while playing for Arab club Al Ain FC in 2002.

International Career

With 25 goals in just 40 international appearances, Joel Tiehi ranks 4th in the list of all-time top scorers for Ivory Coast[1]. Having made his debut for the Elephants in 1987, Tiehi represented Ivory Coast in four consecutive AFCON Championships from 1992 to 1998. He played an instrumental in helping Ivory Coast to their maiden AFCON championships in 92 when they beat Ghana on penalties in the final. Incidentally, Tiehi was the only Ivorian player to miss their respective spot-kick in the final. After an international career spanning 12 years, Tiehi called it a day with the national side in 1999.

6th. Alain Gouamene (GK)

Gouamene’s heroics during the 1992 AFCON Final: –

Currently serving as the coach of the U-23 Ivorian National team, Alain Gouamene is the only keeper to have made our list. Similar to many of his peers, Gouamene was once a product of the ASEC youth academy & went on to make his professional debut with the club itself in 1986. Over the next 5 years, Gouamene would win the league title twice (1990 & 1991) & the domestic cup once (1990) while with the Mimosas. Gouamene’s first venture outside his homeland came in 1991 with a move to Moroccan club, Raja Casablanca. He would remain with them only for a single season as the club finished runners-up of both Botola Pro 1 & the Moroccan Cup.

The summer of 1992 marked Gouamene’s return to Mimosas & this time his stay only lasted for two seasons. Gouamene played his part as the club registered back-to-back league titles in 1993 & 94. Upon leaving the club once again in 1994, Gouamene would go on to spend a brief period in France with AS Trouville before joining Ligue 1 club Toulouse FC in 1995. He would spend the next 5 years of his career with the club before calling it a day on his career.

International Career

Ranked as the 9th best African keeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS, Gouamene deserves his place among the elite. Gouamene featured in a total of 7 AFCON Champions for the Elephants & the 24 appearances he has made in the competition remains a record to this date. Gouamene stopped two penalties in their shoot-out win over Ghana in the 1992 AFCON final. He was also named to the eventual team of the tournament. After retiring from international duty in 2000, Gouamene had a total 58 appearances to his name in a career which lasted for a period of 13 years.

5th. Ibrahima Bakayoko (CF)

Bakayoko marks the first of the 4 strikers to have found themselves in the top 5. Ibrahima Bakayoko kicked off his professional career at the age of 17 with Stade d’Abidjan in 1994. In his two years with the club, Bakayoko went on to make over 50 appearances for the club & scoring 12 goals in the process. His impressive displays caught the attention of numerous European clubs but Bakayoko decided on a move to France to feature for Montpellier HSC. Bakayoko continued his impressive goal-scoring run with the new club, racking up over 25 goals in just two seasons. The summer of 98, saw Bakayoko make a high-profile switch to the Premier League to feature for Everton FC.

His stint with the Toffees only lasted for a single season as Bakayoko failed to impress with just 7 goals in 30 appearances. The following summer saw Bakayoko moving back to France but this time with Marseille. He would remain with the Olympians over the next 4 years featuring in nearly 150 games for the club & scoring more than 30 goals in total. Upon leaving the club during the summer of 2003, Bakayoko would go on to play for as many as 6 clubs over the next 6 years which includes – CA Osasuna (Spain), FC Istres (France), AS Livorno (Italy), ACR Messina (Italy), AE Larissa FC (Greece) & PAOK FC (Greece).

Final Playing Days

Following his departure from PAOK in 2009, Bakayako would go on to join Greece Superleague club PAS Giannina FC and would enjoy a highly fruitful three seasons with the club, featuring in nearly 100 games & scoring over 30 goals during that period. He helped them gain promotion to the top tier & helped solidify them as top tier club. After leaving Giannina in 2012, Bakayako would play for Olympiacos Volou for a single season before finally calling it a day with French lower tier club Stade Bordelais.

International Career

Having made his international debut with Ivory Coast in the year 1995, Bakayako went on to feature in a total of 45 internationals for the Elephants & scoring 30 goals in the process. Bakayako ranks 2nd among Ivory Coast’s top scorers & has the highest goals per games ratio among his countrymen. While he was never able to win any form silverware with Ivory Coast, he did feature in 4 consecutive AFCON Championships from 1996 to 2002.

4th. Yaya Toure (CM)

Best Goals Compilation of Yaya Toure: – 

Yaya Toure ranks among the top footballers Africa has produced since the turn of the century. Similar to his elder brother Kolo Toure, Yaya progressed through the youth ranks at the ASEC academy & went on to make his professional debut with the club at the age of 17. Not long after making his debut & helping the Mimosas to the 2001 Cote d’Ivorie Premier Division title, Yaya was drafted in by Belgian club, KSK Beveren. After a couple of highly successful seasons with Beveren, Yaya nearly joined his brother at Arsenal even featuring in a pre-season game for the Gunners. However, difficulty in acquiring a work permit saw Yaya ultimately joining Ukrainian club, FC Metalurh Donetsk instead.

Toure impressed in his short stint with the Ukrainian club & within a span of 18 months found himself in Greece with Olympiacos. Yaya featured in a total of 32 games for the Greek side & helped them to a domestic double in the 2005/06 season. The following season saw Yaya joining French club AS Monaco & despite struggling a bit a first, Yaya eventually rose to his usual standard and helped the club stay in the top tier that season.

Barcelona & Manchester City

The summer of 2007 saw Toure being brought in by Spanish giants Barcelona for a fee of 10€ million. While he was a pivotal member of the Catalan giants during his three seasons with the club, Toure was never able to fully cement his place in the team. He would eventually leave the club at the end of the 2009/10 season after falling out favour with then Barca coach, Pep Guardiola[2]. In this three seasons with Barca, he would win the La Liga title twice (2008/09 & 2009/10), Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup & the FIFA Cup World Cup all once in 2009.

Following his departure from Barca, Yaya would join his brother Kolo at Manchester City signing a 5-year deal. Yaya had a perfect start to his career with City going on to feature in more 50 games for the club in all competitions. He even added goals to his game scoring a total of 12 in the 2010/11 season. Yaya played a crucial role in helping City end their 35-year long barren run without a trophy by helping them to the 2010/11 FA Cup. He scored the lone goals in their 1-0 semifinal & final wins over United & Stoke respectively.

To this day (2016/17) Yaya has remained an integral part of the Citizens helping them to several major accolades during his time with them. In total Yaya has won a total of 6 major trophies with City which includes the Premier League title twice (2011/12 & 2013/14), FA Cup once (2010/11), League Cup twice (2013/14 & 2015/16) & the Community Shield once in 2012. In addition to these, Yaya has also been a part two PFA team of the year (2011/12 & 2013/14) & was named as the Manchester City player of the year in 2013/14.

International Career

Ever since his debut in 2004 to his final game in 2016, Yaya Toure has been one of Ivory Coast’s most consistent players over the last decade. In his time with the Elephants, he has represented them in 3 FIFA world cups & 5 AFCON Championships. In fact, Yaya remains the only player to have represented the Ivorians in every single World Cup game till date. The only piece of silverware Yaya has won with the Ivorians was the 2015 AFCON championship. Captaining the side to the victory, Yaya was named in the eventual team of the tournament as well. In addition to these Yaya has also been a part of the every single CAF team of the year from 2008 to 2015 with the exception of 2010. He has also been named the African footballer of the year a total of 4 times.

In addition to these Yaya has also been a part of the every single CAF team of the year from 2008 to 2015 with the exception of 2010. He has also been named the African footballer of the year a total of 4 times (2011, 12, 13 & 14) & the BBC African Footballer of the Year twice (2013 & 15). At 33 years of age, Yaya still has a good couple of years in him & may well move up the list.

Countdown: Top 10 Ivorian Footballers: Top 3

External Resources

[1] 11v11.com, Ivory Coast National Football Team Stats

[2] Goal.com, Yaya Toure falling out with Guardiola