- Radhi Jaidi, former Bolton centre back,fmr Tunisian coach, fmr Southampton U23 coach and currently head coach of USL Championship team Hartford Athletic.
Since the first African footballer Andrew Watson, Scotland, took to the field in Europe in 1881, players from the continent have become central to the whole European game.
Today, there are 125 African players in France’s Ligue 1 and 47 in the English Premier League. Three of the top ten finalists for the 2019 Ballon d’Or were African, in Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Senegal’s Sadio Mané and Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez. And the likes of Senegal’s Pape Diouf, Nigeria’s Michael Emenalo and Ghana’s Gerald Asamoah have held senior positions in big clubs like Chelsea, AS Monaco,FC Schalke 04 and Olympique de Marseille.
Yet there remains one position in which African nationals are conspicuously absent: as head coaches. Across the first divisions of England, Spain, Germany, France and Italy, there are no African managers.
This is not simply due to a lack of candidates. Djamel Belmadi and Aliou Cissé boast sterling records managing the Algerian and Senegalese national teams respectively. Pitso Mosimane, Florent Ibenge have done excellent jobs managing clubs in South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo respectively. Former stars like Côte d’Ivoire’s Kolo Touré, Ghana’s Michael Essien and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o are all cutting their teeth in coaching or have declared their intention to be managers. Meanwhile, there are many other promising or proven African talents such as Walid Regragui, who won admiration in Morocco; Sunday Oliseh, who has has performed well in the Dutch leagues; Radhi Jaidi, who has coached Southampton U23s for years; and former Senegalese fullback Omar Daf, who has coached Sochaux in France’s Ligue 2 to stability. These may not all be household names demanding recognition, but many clubs across Europe’s top leagues have regularly taken chances on far less qualified candidates than these in the past. Why are they never African?