Gaël Kakuta, 29-year-old attacking midfielder for French Ligue 1 side Racing Club de Lens has become the first Congolese footballer to win the Marc Vivian Foe award.By Abdourahmane Diallo
The RC Lens ace succeeds Nigerian Viktor Oshimen, the Napoli striker, who won the award last season with Lille.
Kakuta pipped Montpellier’s Algerian striker Andy Delort and Lyon’s Zimbabwean striker Tino Kadewere to the award.
The Congolese, who has scored 11 goals and provided five assists in 33 games this season, embodies the success of the northerners’ return to the French top flight last season.
This distinction, which caps a fine season, is a consecration for Gaël Kakuta.
It gives impetus to a career strewn with pitfalls.
At nearly 30 years of age, the RFI – France 24 award winner has played for 12 clubs and in 6 different countries in his chequered career.
The player has the reputation of a travelling pigeon, as he has only stayed more than a season with one team, at Vitesse Arnhem, between 2012 and 2014.
The native of Lille (France), whose parents are Congolese from Kinshasa, was chosen by a jury of more than 100 journalists specialising in French and African football.
This is from a list of 11 players previously drawn up by the sports departments of RFI and France 24.
A product of Lens Academy, Gaël Kakuta left for Chelsea at the age of 16.
He then played in China, Spain and Italy, and has nine caps for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
He returned to the north of France after several mixed seasons abroad, joining Amiens and then Lens last summer, where he really confirmed the extent of his talent.
Since 2011, the trophy for the best African player in Ligue 1 has been named after Marc-Vivien Foé in tribute to the Cameroonian international who died of a heart attack on 26 June 2003 during a Confederation Cup match between Cameroon and Colombia at the Gerland Stadium in Lyon.
Previous winners of the award are: Marouane Chamakh (Morocco, 2009); Gervinho (Ivory Coast, 2010); Gervinho (Ivory Coast, 2011); Younès Belhanda (Morocco, 2012); Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, 2013); Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria, 2014) ; André Ayew (Ghana, 2015); Sofiane Boufal (Morocco, 2016); Jean Michaël Seri (Ivory Coast, 2017); Karl Toko-Ekambi (Cameroon, 2018); Nicolas Pépé (Ivory Coast, 2019); Victor Osimhen (Nigeria, 2020).