From Ras ben Sakka at the tip of Africa to its southernmost point of Cape Agulhas, passion for football is immense. FIFA.com's latest Have Your Say topic paid testament to this as Africans came out in full force to salute their idols.
An overwhelming contingent were fans of Egyptian club Al Ahly, whose devotion to the iconic Mohamed Aboutrika was there for all to see. Indeed, the very first comment posted by ecprince, who opined that "Aboutrika is best player in Africa, he is a playmaker and a scorer," set the tone for an unyielding homage to the 'Smiling Assassin'.
It was the Ronaldinho-esque grin that accompanies him throughout matches, the manner in which he plays 'the beautiful game', and his ability to combine playmaking and scoring duties that rendered Aboutrika the clear victor.
"He is the best in Egypt and in the whole of Africa, he leaves his smile everywhere he goes," wrote ahlawyah. In sublime's view, Aboutrika is "the best player...a talented scorer, effective playmaker and a good leader for his team."
"I think the best player in Africa now is Mohamed Aboutrika. He scored three goals in the FIFA Club World Cup 2006 and led his team to third place in this championship and he led Egypt to be the champion of Africa," wrote hazem2000. Not only is Aboutrika "the most effective player", according to m.alsherif, but he also "doesn't lose his smile and makes every African person happy when watching him."
Keeping it short and sweet, emadft put: "Mohamed Aboutrika is the best African player." This user's words - one ones very similar - were repeated over and over.
Trio head the chasing pack
Not everybody chose to go with a player from their homeland. Nigerian's ASOMUGHA elected to be "realistic rather than patriotic" and singled out arch-rivals Ghana's Michael Essien, whose USA-based compatriot greatman opined that no African player can be compared to [Samuel] Eto'o. "He is in the region of George Weah, Abedi Pele, Raber Madjer, Roger Milla, Tony Yeboah and Kalusha [Bwalya]," he declared. Another Nigerian, holyparcel, championed Didier Drogba's cause saying "he's so spectacular and I admire his agiity in front of goal."
It was, in fact, Drogba, Eto'o and Essien - in that order - that led the pursuit of the runaway winner Aboutrika, with Obafemi Martins, Emmanuel Adebayor, Fredi Kanoute and Kolo Toure all proving popular choices.
A number of non-African enthusiasts showed their deep appreciation for football across the globe by entering into the debate. "Samuel Eto'o helped a lot FC Barcelona, but now the best African player in the world, in my opinion, is Didier Drogba. He put the great Andriy Shevchenko on bench and is one of the best players in Chelsea," wrote Brazilian trevelyan, whose compatriot dalo2005 agreed: "It could have been a photo-finish fight between Eto'o and Drogba, but for the fact that Eto'o spent most of the year in the medical department, I'll vote for Drogba."
Colombian gadgeth gave his vote to Togolese forward Emmanuel Adebayor, who Ricky100 of Mexico also believes is his continent's transcendent performer after filling Thierry Henry's boots at Arsenal. Peruvian frankruleS voted for Javier Balboa of minnows Equatorial Guinea, while DhalmuRing of Australia judged Michael Essien as the standout player.
French users also contributed, with terrydoom favouring Ivorian rock Kolo Toure and a.olama siding with the majority: "This is a set of amazing players," he stated, "but Aboutrika definitely stands out as something special and different. He managed to lead his club and national team to moments of hope and glory that were long forgotten."
Indeed, while a number of players gained mention among the 450 comments posted, this particular topic belonged to one man: Mohamed Aboutrika.
FIFA.com would like to thank everybody for their contributions to this debate. We look forward to reading your views on our next Have Your Say topic.