Disappearance of Salif Keita: Mali mourns a football legend


By: Manu Tournoux

Former Malian international and first African Ballon d’Or, Salif Keita, died at the age of 76 in Bamako. An emblematic figure of African and French football who marked the 1960s and 1970s.

The man nicknamed the “Black Panther” died on September 2 in Bamako, leaving behind an incomparable legacy for Malian and French football.

An exceptional career

Born in December 1946 in Bamako, Salif Keita grew up in a modest family before standing out for his talent on the pitch. After being trained at AS Real Bamako with whom he won three Mali Cups, Keita joined Stade Malien then, at only 23, AS Saint-Étienne, where he enjoyed his best years.

First African Ballon d’Or

In France, Salif Keita won the hearts of Les Verts supporters with his elegance, power and technique. He largely participated in the success of the Saint-Etienne team during the 60s and 70s, notably allowing the club to accumulate three French championship titles and two French Cups. His exploits on the pitch earned him the first African Ballon d’Or in 1970.

A passage through Olympique de Marseille and the end of his career

After six years at Saint-Étienne, Salif Keita joined Olympique de Marseille in 1972 before signing with the Valenciennes club in 1974. It was there that the legendary Malian footballer put an end to his career for good in 1977.

An emblematic figure of African football

Throughout his career, Salif Keita has marked the history of African football by being the first player from the continent to be crowned with an individual trophy as prestigious as the African Golden Ball. Today, this distinction testifies to the immeasurable talent of this great athlete, who has always campaigned for the rights of African players and advocated equal opportunities in the world of football.

Tributes to Salif Keita

His death moved not only Mali and Africa but also all football lovers in France and around the world. Several of his former teammates and adversaries expressed their gratitude and memories of this extraordinary figure.

Jean-Michel Larque:

“We are losing a huge traveling companion” – during a press interview, former Greens midfielder and French sports journalist Jean-Michel Larqué paid tribute to his friend and glorious teammate.

Alain Giresse:

The coach of Mali from 2010 to 2012 declares: “A great lord of football. I rubbed shoulders with the player and the man and the talent of Salif Keita went hand in hand with his kindness. We are losing a great lord of football. »

According to all those who crossed his path, Salif Keita was not only one of the best Malian and African footballers but also a generous and committed man, who never ceased to defend the values of football and the place of Africa. on the international scene. His passing is a great loss for sport and the African continent.

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