Below are some of the outstanding performers:
Vincent Enyeama – Lille (2011-18)
Enyeama attained iconic status with Les Dogues, helping establish himself as one of Africa’s greats despite his small stature for a goalkeeper. He arrived from Israel’s Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2011, but it would be 2013/14 before being cemented as Lille’s No1. In that season, Enyeama would go within 114 minutes of equalling Gaetan Huard’s Ligue 1 goalkeeping record, set in 1993, of playing 1,176 minutes without conceding a goal.
Terem Moffi – Lorient (2020-23); Nice (2023-present day)
Ligue 1’s next big-money export could be plying his trade with Nice. The tall Nigeria international has excelled since being snapped up from Belgium’s Kortrijk by Lorient in October 2020, netting 43 times and notching 12 assists in 108 Ligue 1 run-outs. Friday’s pair at PSG – upon his first appearance of 2023/24 – added to this burgeoning reputation.
Jay-Jay Okocha – Paris Saint-Germain (1998-2002)
One of football’s great entertainers lit up Parc des Princes, either side of the millennium. The Nigeria wizard danced through Ligue 1’s defences with impunity after a then-African-record £14 million arrival from Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt on the back of an exceptional FIFA World Cup 1998, on French soil. A magical debut goal versus Bordeaux set the scene for a mesmerising stint fondly remembered for his mentorship of Ronaldinho.
Victor Osimhen – Lille (2019/20)
Osimhen’s stay in Ligue 1 was brief, but unforgettable. The rangy striker followed in the footsteps of compatriots Enyeama and Peter Odemwingie on arrival from Belgium’s Charleroi in August 2019. Hints about a phenomenal talent followed, across 13 goals in 28 Ligue 1 matches – including a pair on debut versus Nantes and delicate lob at Marseille. He’d depart for Napoli the next summer for a club-record fee of up to €80 million.
Taye Taiwo – Marseille (2005-11)
Taiwo’s reputation at Marseille was built upon an ability to strike the ball with ferocity. This ability will be forever linked to a remarkable strike versus Sochaux in September 2010, lashing home on the angle from 35 yards. Taiwo had been recruited in 2005 from Lobi Stars in his homeland as a prospective replacement for lionised World Cup-winning left-back Bixente Lizarazu. He’d go on to lift five major trophies with OM, including 2009/10’s Ligue 1 crown and successive Coupe de la Ligue’s from 2009-11.