Man of Asmara: Two Time AFCON Top Goal Scorer Laurent Pokou Dies In Abidjan

Man of Asmara: Two Time AFCON Top Goal Scorer Laurent Pokou Dies In Abidjan

Laurent Pokou, two time top goal-scorer at the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and arguably one of the greatest footballers from Ivory Coast, died on Sunday after receiving treatment at the Polyclinique Internationale Sainte Anne-Marie (PISAM) in Abidjan for two months.

The Ivory Coast football legend died of an un-disclosed illness.

Pokou, 69, also holds the record for the most goals scored in a single match after netting five against Ethiopia, in a group match at the 1970 Afcon edition in Khartoum, Sudan, Kwese Sports reported.

The goal-haul earned him the title, ‘Man of Asmara.’

Pokou scored 14 goals at the 1968 and 1970 finals, a record broken by Samuel Eto’o of Cameroon in 2008, who took five editions to better the record.

The striker’s exploits on the international scene led to applaud from the revered footballing great, Pele who said he had found his successor in 1972.

Following his death on Sunday, Ivory Coast leading goal-scorer, Didier Drogba described Pokou as the ‘African Pele,’ French Football Weekly reported.

Pokou had a glittering club career at local club, ASEC Abidjan and French Ligue One sides, Stade Rennais and AS Nancy Lorraine. He scored 46 goals in 68 games in all competitions for Rennais. His goals saved the relegation-battling club from relegation in 1974, before joining Nancy.

He however had an un-successful stint at Nancy and returned to Rennais where an altercation in a Coupe de France match drew a two-year suspension from the French Football Federation (FFF).

The ban was later reduced to six months but Pokou returned home where he hung up his boots in 1983. He unsuccessfully tried his hand in coaching and called time off in 1988.

Pokou is regarded as one of the continent’s finest footballer alongside greats such as Jay Jay Okocha and Daniel Amokachi of Nigeria, Benni McCarthy of South Africa, Mohammed Aboutrika of Egypt, Samuel Kuffour of Ghana and Rigobert Song of Cameroon never to have won the prestigious African Footballer of the Year Award.

His death comes barely six months after Stephen Keshi, former Nigerian captain who won the Afcon as player and coach and Shuaibu Amodu, the only coach to lead Nigeria to two World Cup finals, BBC reported.