With City’s training camp based in South Africa this summer, we look at players who have links to Africa that have played for the Blues over the years...
Lucien Mettomo joined City in 2001 for a fee of £1.5m from St Etienne. The Cameroon international was one of Kevin Keegan’s first signings and played much of his first campaign with the Blues in central defence alongside Richard Dunne. He made 27 appearances in the Championship-winning side before losing his place to Sylvain Distin and eventually moving on to Kaiserslautern in 2003.
Mark Hughes brought Emmanuel Adebayor to City for a hefty fee from Arsenal in 2009, believing the Togolese forward would add height and speed to his attack alongside Carlos Tevez. He made a fantastic start to his City career, too, finding the net in each of his first four games but he later received a three-match ban for violent conduct during a controversial 4-2 win over the Gunners.
After his first campaign, loan periods followed to Real Madrid and Spurs, the latter eventually becoming permanent in 2012, having clocked up 45 appearances for City and scored 19 goals.
Algerian midfielder Ali Benarbia played most of his career in France where he played for Martigues, Bordeaux, Monaco and PSG over a period of 16 years. The brilliant play-maker finally made his way to England in 2001 aged 33 as part of Kevin Keegan’s all-conquering 2001/02 Division One side and became an instant crowd favourite and was voted 2001/02 Player of the Year. He remained with the Blues for another season before joining Qatari side Al-Rayyan in 2003.
Ivory Coast star Kolo Toure spent four years with City following his 2009 move from Arsenal but was only a regular first-team starter during his first two seasons at the Etihad. Kolo served a lengthy ban for taking one of his wife’s dietary pills in error and never really regained his place thereafter. He joined Liverpool earlier this month after being released by City.
A product of City’s Academy, Nigerian-born Dickson Etuhu had broken into the Blues’ first-team under Kevin Keegan but surprisingly moved to Preston for £300,000 in 2002 after failing to agree a new contract. He went on to play for a number of clubs including Norwich and Fulham, the latest being Blackburn Rovers.
Former World Footballer of the Year and African Player of the Century George Weah joined City from AC Milan to a form a new strike partnership with Paulo Wanchope, but his stay with the Blues was brief. At 34, the Liberia national hero was at the wrong end of an illustrious career and he quit City after failing to nail down a regular starting berth, joining Marseille after just three months in Manchester.
Sven-Goran Eriksson brought Gelson Fernandes to City from Swiss outfit Sion and the defensive midfielder went on to make 59 appearances over a two-year period for the Blues between 2007 and 2009. Rather than play for Cape Verde, he chose his adopted home of Switzerland to represent at international level and, still only 26, has so far won 42 caps for the Swiss.
Part II tomorrow...