It wouldn’t be far-fetched if one were to term Ivory Coast as one of Africa’s biggest underachievers. While the Elephants do have 2 AFCON Championships to their name, their performances in the World Cups have been disappointing failing to get past the group stages in any of the last three tournaments.
Despite their shortcomings, Ivory Coast has produced a plethora world class talents, especially over the last two decades. Known as the crown jewel of African football, the ASEC youth academy  has produced a host of World class talents most notably during the tenure of Jean-Marc Guillou between 1993 & 2000. The club’s partnership with Belgian club, KSK Beveren at the time also helped many of their young prospects to move to Europe at a very young age. While this has proved to a huge stepping it has also hurt many of them who find the move too big of a jump.
Nevertheless, in this piece of article, we’ll be focusing on Cote d’Ivorie’s top 10 footballers of all-time. In case you find that we’ve missed someone we shouldn’t have, feel free to inform us.
Ivory Coast’s Greatest Footballers: 6 to 10
10th. Salomon Kalou (CF)
Saloman Armand Magloire Kalou or simply Saloman Kalou holds a unique record as being the 1st person to score 10 or more goals in the top flights of English, Dutch, German & French Football. As a product of ASEC youth academy, Kalou went on to make his professional debut with Mimosas itself at the age of 17. Kalou first caught the attention of Europe’s elite during his time with dutch Feyenoord. Making a move to the club at the age of 18, it didn’t take long the striker to prove his quality. Despite his first season as a Feyenoord player on loan at Excelsior, the next couple of seasons with the club (2004/05 & 2005/06) saw him racking up an impressive tally of 42 goals in 80 appearances.
His efforts with Feyenoord saw him being awarded the John Cruyff award in 2005 for being the best young player in the league, only the second ever non-dutch player to win the accolade. After a total of 3 seasons at Feyenoord, Kalou made the switch to English Premier League champions Chelsea in the summer of 2006. Kalou had an immediate impact upon his arrival his Chelsea, going on to feature in a total of 57 games in the 2006/07 season. His performances helped the club to a league & FA Cup double that season. Kalou would go on to feature in another 5 seasons for the Blues’ winning the Premier League title once in 2009/10, FA Cup on three occasions (2008/09, 2009/10 & 2011/12) & the Champions League once in 2011/12.
After a total of 6 seasons with Chelsea, Kalou would join French Ligue 1 club Lille on a free transfer for the 2012/13 season. Like his time with Chelsea, Kalou made an instant with the French club, racking up a total of 16 goals & 6 assists in his first season. He went on to improve these numbers in his second season with the club eventually with 18 goals & 5 assists in 40 appearances. After appearing in a couple games for Lille in the 2014/15 season, Kalou soon found himself flying to Germany as he signed for Hertha Berlin. Kalou has remained with Hertha over the last three seasons.
At just 31 years of age, Kalou currently ranks as the 6th most capped Ivorian international with 88 appearances & lists 3rd in the last of all-time top scorers with 28 goals to date. During his time Feyenoord, Kalou had tried to acquire a dutch citizenship & had turned down repeated call-ups by the Ivorian national team. This caused him to miss the 2006 World Cup with Ivory Coast. He eventually made his debut for the Elephants in 2007 in a friendly against Guinea. The only piece of silverware Kalou has won the national side has been the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
9th. Didier Zokora (CDM)
A product of the ASEC Mimosas youth academy, Didier Zokora made his professional debut for the club at the age of 18 in 1999. It didn’t take long for Zokora to move to Europe as he joined Belgian First Division club KRC Genk in 2000. Over the next 4 years, Zokora would go on to feature in over a 100 games for the club & played a crucial part as the club won the 2001/02 Jupiler Pro League title, only their 2nd in history.
The summer of 2004 saw Zokora making the switch to France as he joined AS Saint-Etienne. In his two seasons with the French club, he would be a highly influential figure making over 70 appearances for the club. In 2006, Zokora made a high-profile transfer to Premier League giants, Tottenham Hotspur. He would remain with the club for a total of three seasons & went on to make 130 appearances for the club in the process. Despite a contract which extended until the end of the 2011/12 season, Zokora fell out of favor with the clubs’ management during the 2nd half of the 2008/09 season & eventually departed from the club during the summer.
Having joined Sevilla for a fee of 9€ million in 2009, Zokora had a highly successful couple of seasons with the club, helping them secure a Champions League berth in the 2009/10 season & winning the 2010 Copa Del Rey title. At the end of the 2010/11 season, Zokora would join Turkish club Trabzonspor on a 4-year deal. After completing three seasons with Trabzonspor, Zokora moved to India to feature in the Indian Super League , representing Pune City FC in the 2015 edition & North East United in the 2016 edition.
With a total of 123 appearances for the Les Elephants, Zokora holds the record for the most capped Ivorian international. In his 14 year career with the National side, Zokora failed to win any major accolade and the closest he came to a silverware was the 2012 African Cup of Nations when they reached the finals only to lose to Zambia on penalties. He featured for the Ivorians in 2006, 2010 & 2014 FIFA World Cups. Zokora’s only goal for the national side came in a World Cup qualifier against Botswana in 2010, a game which Ivory Coast won 4-0.
8th. Kolo Toure (CB)
Kolo Toure’s trial at Arsenal, described by former team-mate Ray Parlour:-
One of the most accomplished players on our list. Kolo Abib Toure was a product of the ASEC youth academy & made his professional debut with the club in 1999 at the age of 18. Toure would remain with the Ivorian club over the next three years, during which he won the Cote d’Ivorie Premier Division title twice (2001 & 2002) and the CAF Super Cup once in 1999. Following a trial with Arsenal FC in 2002, Kolo was offered a permanent contract to move to the Premier League giants.
During his initial days at Arsenal, Kolo was deployed as either a defensive midfielder or as a right-back. In his first season itself, Kolo went on to make 40 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions & even winning the 2002/03 FA Cup. The 2003/04 season would go down as one of Kolo’s best seasons. He formed a solid defensive partnership with Sol Campbell at the heart of the Arsenal defense which ultimately helped the club finish the season unbeaten & win the Premier League title. Kolo would remain with the club for 5 more years, up and until the 2008/09 season. By the time he would leave the club, he had 326 appearances & 14 goals to his name.
In addition to the 2002/03 FA Cup & the 2003/04 Premier League title, Kolo also won the 2004/05 FA Cup, 2004 FA Community & finished as a Champions League runner-up once in 2005/06.
Post Arsenal Career
2009 marked the beginning of the Dubai revolution at Manchester City & Kolo Toure was one of the first names brought in by then manager Mark Hughes to the club. While he did have his moments at the club he was never fully able to cement a place in the team. The 2011/12 season saw City lifting they’re first ever Premier League title & Kolo appeared in only 14 of their 38 league games.
Summer of 2013 saw Kolo making another move to a Premier League club, this time being Liverpool FC. He played his part as the club mounted their closest title challenge in the Premier League era in the 2013/14 season only to finish 2nd. While his appearances for the club were limited he was able to achieve a cult status among the Kopites during his three seasons with the club. The summer of 2016 saw Kolo, moving to Scotland to feature for Celtic in the 2016/17 Season ABSA Premiership.
In an international career which spanned over a time of 15 years, Kolo Toure made a total of 120 appearances of the Elephants & represented them in 10 major international competitions which include 7 AFCON Championship & 3 FIFA World Cups. The only international title he has won in his 15 years was the 2015 AFCON title which saw them beating Ghana in the finals. Kolo who scored in the eventual shootout in the final was also named in the team of the tournament. The game against Ghana also marked his final international game for the Ivorians.
 BBC.COM, The Impact of ASEC Academy on Ivorian Football
 Economictimes.indiatimes.com, Indian Super League