Man United's nine African players

Wednesday 12 January 2022 12:04

The Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon is currently in full swing, with the tournament running until early February.

There is, of course, a tradition of African footballers stretching back at Old Trafford for over two decades, with nine men from the continent featuring for the club since 1999, including Eric Bailly and Hannibal who are competing at the tournament

Find out more about each of the players below...


Nationality: South Africa
Untied appearances: 126
United goals: 11

Our first African player, Fortune joined from Atletico Madrid in August 1999, making his Reds debut in a 5-1 win over Newcastle United later that month. Able to be deployed at full-back or in midfield, Fortune was initially used sparingly by Sir Alex Ferguson but became a valuable squad member during his seven-year spell at Old Trafford, helping the Reds to league titles in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Memorable individual moments included a brace against South Melbourne in the 2000 Club World Championship, and two goals in a 6-0 home hammering of Bradford City. Quinton, who featured for his country at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, left United in 2006 but returned in 2019 as assistant coach for the Under-23s. He's now a first-team coach at Reading.

UTD Podcast: How Fortune left South Africa Video

UTD Podcast: How Fortune left South Africa

In a top UTD Podcast, South Africa legend Quinton Fortune explains how football was his "ticket out of the ghetto"...


Nationality: Cameroon
United appearances: 39
United goals: 2

Purchased from French club Lens in the summer of 2003, Djemba-Djemba’s first appearance for the Reds was a trophy-winning one, as we overcame Arsenal on penalties at the Millennium Stadium (now the Principality Stadium) to clinch the Community Shield. The midfielder, who played 22 times in his debut season, scored a memorable extra-time winner against Leeds in the League Cup but couldn’t establish himself as first choice at Old Trafford, amid competition from Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Brazilian World Cup winner Kleberson. After a handful of appearances in 2004/05, Djemba-Djemba was sold to Aston Villa in January 2005. Eric actually kept playing for well over a decade, eventually announcing his retirement in 2021 following a nomadic career which took in spells in Qatar, Denmark, Israel, Serbia, Scotland, India, Indonesia and France.


Nationality: Angola
United appearances: 3
United goals: 0

Angola international Manucho hit three goals at the 2012 AFCON tournament to tie for the Golden Boot award, four years after his final appearance for the Reds. Highly rated on his arrival, the forward had the misfortune to be competing for a place with Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov, and his Old Trafford career was restricted to one Premier League and two League Cup appearances, all as a substitute, in the 2008/09 campaign. Manucho was loaned to Hull City later in the season, scoring a late winner against Fulham which proved to be vital in maintaining top-flight status for the Tigers. After a decade in Spain with Real Valladolid, Rayo Vallecano and Cornella, he retired in 2019.

Manucho scored 22 goals in 53 games for Angola.


Nationality: Senegal
United appearances: 9
United goals: 1

Like Ighalo, Diouf spent part of his early career in Norway, hitting 45 goals in 86 games for Molde before being snapped up by United in 2009. The Senegalese had to wait six months to make his Reds debut, against Birmingham City, but made up for lost time by netting against Burnley at Old Trafford the following week. Ultimately, that would prove to be his only United strike, with Diouf making a further seven appearances before being sold to Hannover. Diouf, who made two appearances for his country at the 2018 World Cup, then spent six years with Stoke City, but now plays in Turkey for Hatayspor.


Nationality: Ivory Coast
United appearances: 4
United goals: 0

Sir Alex Ferguson’s final signing as Manchester United manager, Zaha completed his move to United in January 2013. He spent the rest of the 2012/13 season at Crystal Palace, helping the Eagles to promotion after eight years in the second tier. Tipped as one of the future great hopes of English football, prior to his decision to represent the Ivory Coast, Zaha started for the Reds in our 2-0 Community Shield triumph over Wigan Athletic at Wembley. That, however, would prove to be one of only four appearances for United, with the winger loaned out to Cardiff City for the second half of the 2013/14 campaign. The following season, Zaha moved back to Selhurst Park, originally on loan, before the move was made permanent, where he has since established himself as one of the south London club’s greatest players.

Your complete 2021 Africa Cup of Nations guide


Key tournament info, including dates, format and groups, as well as which Premier League players are represented.


Nationality: Ivory Coast
United appearances: 113
United goals: 1

Current centre-back Bailly came to prominence in 2015 when, as an initially uncapped member of the Ivory Coast squad, he helped his country to only their second Africa Cup of Nations title. The following year, United signed him from Villarreal, and he was a key member of the side that won the UEFA Europa League for the first time in the club’s history, despite missing the Stockholm victory over Ajax after picking up a red card in the semi-final second leg against Celta Vigo. Eric scored his first United goal in August 2017, against Swansea City, and made 13 appearances as the Reds finished second in the Premier League that season. After struggling with injury in 2019 and 2020, Bailly has recovered and become an important squad member and will be hoping to help the Elephants to continental glory again.


Nationality: Nigeria
United appearances: 23
United goals: 5

Signed on an initial six-month loan on deadline day in 2020 to help boost United's striking options, Ighalo endeared himself to United's faithful immediately by becoming the first Red for 95 years to find the net in each of his first four starts for the club. Odion scored five times for the club in all, including important cup goals against Derby and Norwich and a Goal-of-the-Month winner versus LASK and extended his spell before leaving for Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab in January 2021. An AFCON Golden Boot winner and bronze medallist in 2019, he has been included in Nigeria's squad for this year's competition.

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UTD Podcast: The joy of Nigerian viewing centres

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Nationality: Ivory Coast
Utd appearances: 9
Utd goals: 1

Another deadline-day signing, this time in October 2020, United fans had to wait until the following January for the exciting attacking midfielder to join from Atalanta. He made his first-team debut during the 4-0 Europa League win over Real Sociedad the following month and, in the next round, opened his Old Trafford account with a brilliant header against AC Milan. The Ivorian, who has been capped by the Elephants, was rewarded with a couple of Premier League appearances towards the end of the term and, still aged just 19, should have a great future ahead of him. 


Nationality: Tunisia
United appearances: 1
United goals: 0

Hannibal was born and raised in France and joined the Reds as an Academy player in the summer of 2019. After a couple of encouraging seasons for our youth teams, the frizzy-haired midfielder made his Reds bow in the 2-1 win at Wolves in May 2021. In the same month, he declared for Tunisia and is in the Carthage Eagles' squad in Cameroon, after starring in their runners-up finish at the Arab Cup prior to Christmas.

All stats correct as of 12 January 2022.