What’s Africa’s greatest natural resource? Oil? Diamonds? Uranium? The answer is footballers. Italy’s Serie A has mined a rich vein of talent from the African nations, as has the Premier League in England. A photo shoot for L’UOMO VOGUE, pictures some of the best African exports looking like the kings of Europe, in Dolce&Gabbana.
Heroes on the fields of their adopted homes, the San Siro and Stamford Bridge these players represent the pinnacle of European teams’ increasing desire to search for raw talent on the 'Dark Continent'. These players remain god-like figures in their native lands competing for their countries is equally important, both in the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup.
If the 2010 World Cup in South Africa represented a watershed moment as the first FIFA World Cup held on African soil, it’s success guaranteed that it won’t be the last. Pele’s famous declaration that ‘an African nation will win the World Cup before the year 2000’, proved to be premature, most experts agree it is only a matter of time. That time will draw ever closer as long as young African’s get access to Europe’s major training academies and players compete in the world’s top competitions.
Dolce&Gabbana is a proud and fervent supporter of both AC Milan and Chelsea FC and the photoshoot depicts Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Kevin Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari, Rodney Strasser and Clarence Seedorf of AC Milan dressed in the unmistakable style of the Italian designers. Football is in the DNA of all Italians and Dolce&Gabbana have a consistant involvement with the Italian National Team.
Didier Drogba, 34, Côtes d’Ivoire
From the Côtes d’Ivoire, Drogba has been hussling, harrying, bulldozing and slicing open defences at the head of The Blues’ attack since 2005. He recently became the only player to have scored in four FA Cup finals when Chelsea beat Liverpool to lift the Cup. This year he answered critics, who said that he was too old too play regularly against top-class opposition, when he put in a performance of such brilliance and awesome physicality that we was credited with almost single-handedly beating competition favourites in their Champions League semi-final first leg tie at Stamford Bridge. One of the physically strongest players in any league, his still has pace to burn as well as the nous that only experience brings, that are vital in big games. He has proved time and time again he is the ultimate big game player, which he will prove once again as the key player for Chelsea when they take on Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final, in Munich Stadium, Saturday 19th May.
Drogba is a revered in his native Côtes d’Ivoire and has led the national team to two African Cup of Nations Finals as well as captaining them with to two World Cups. He works tirelessly for charity and is credited with playing a vital role in bringing peace to his country, after Côtes d’Ivoire qualified for the 2008 World Cup Drogba made a desperate plea for peace to the combatants to lay down their arms, a plea that was answered after five years of civil war.
Kevin Prince Boateng, 25, Germany, Ghana
The Prince of Milan was born in Germany to Ghanaian father and German mother, is a dynamic all-action style midfielder for AC Milan. After playing for English clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth, Prince found his footballing spiritual home at the San Siro with the Serie A giants. His style is athletic and combative and his performances in the last two seasons have seen him installed as a favourite of the Curva Sud supporters. With a style all his own and a fearsome shot to boot he plunders opponents’ defences at will. Great athleticism, commitment, arial dominance, stunning skills and rampant pace Boateng possesses in spades.
Prince decided to play for the land of his father Ghana and turned out for the national team in the 2010 World Cup. In the competition, when Ghana played Germany, Prince faced his brother Jérôme Boateng who played fro German. This was the first time two brothers had played on opposing sides in an international match and been on the pitch at the same time.
Sulley Muntari, 27, Ghana
Crossing town from Milanese rivals Internazionale, Ghanaian Muntari currently plies his trade as a central midfielder on loan to AC Milan. In his first season with Milan Muntari brought necessary steel to the midfield and a powerful long-range shot. His headed goal against Juventus in the 1-1 draw in Serie A at the San Siro was disallowed even though replays showed that the ball had clearly crossed the line. The goal could have clinched the game for AC Milan and may well have been significant in a very tight title race between the two teams. Juventus eventually won the title by 4 points. Muntari is a stalwart of the Ghanaian football team, known as the Black Swans, since 2002 scoring 17 international goals, many from long-range.
Rodney Strasser, Sierra Leone, 24
Having come through the ranks of the AC Milan youth system, Rodney Strasser currently plays in midfield for the Serie A club after a brief loan spell with Lecce. Strasser is a strong and committed player who tackles hard and reinforces a tough midfield adding steel to the chassis. After arriving at the club, Stasser broke his ankle in a match against Juventus but showed his mettle battling back to make his return only three months later. Strasser has played for his native Sierra Leone since 2010.
Clarence Seedorf, 35, Surinam, The Netherlands
One of the most respected and decorated players of our, or any other time, the Surinamese Dutchman has long been the source of inspiration for young African footballers looking to make their way in the big leagues of Europe. Seedorf is the only player to have won the Champions League four times with three different clubs, Ajax in 1995, Real Madrid in 1998 and AC Milan in 2003 and 2007. His incomparable experience means he has one of the most highly evolved football intelligences of the modern game. Seedorf turned out for The Netherlands in the 1996 European Championships and the 1998 World Cup accruing 87 caps and retiring in 2008.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty