Congolese stopper Chancel Mbemba was named the French league’s African player of the year on Tuesday, marking the first time the award has gone to a defender.
The Marseille player won the Marc-Vivien Foe prize ahead of last year’s winner, Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana (Lens), and Nigeria striker Terem Moffi (Nice), reports AP.
Born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mbemba moved to Europe at the age of 17 to Belgian club Anderlecht.
He also played for Newcastle and Porto before joining Marseille last summer, helping the 1993 European champions secure a third-place finish in the French league this season.
In addition to his defensive role, the 28-year-old Mbemba scored five goals in 35 league games this season.
More than 100 African players featured in the French league this season. Players who have featured for an African national team and played in at least 15 top-tier matches in France over the last season are eligible for the prize.
The award is decided by a panel of journalists specializing in French and African soccer.
Foe, a two-time African champion, collapsed and died during a Confederations Cup semifinal game in France in 2003 while playing for Cameroon.
Source: Bahrain News Agency