Previous winners of the BBC African Football of the Year award

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Andre 'Dede' Ayew

Ghana and Marseille winger Andre "Dede" Ayew is the BBC's African Footballer of the Year for 2011.

The 21-year-old took over a third of the votes to follow in the footsteps of his father, Abedi "Pele" Ayew, who won the inaugural BBC award in 1991.

After making an impact on the international stage in 2010, when he impressed observers at both the Africa Cup of Nations and Fifa World Cup, 2011 marked a year when Ayew became a key figure at club level.

He finished the 2010-11 campaign as a regular starter for Marseille for the first time in his career.

Asamoah Gyan

The Ghanaian footballer became very popular with African fans after scoring three goals for his national team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He also also missed a penalty in the last minute of extra-time in Ghana's quarter-final defeat by Uruguay.

During his international career Asamoah Gyan played for clubs in France, England and the United Arab Emirates.

Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba's goal-scoring antics for both club and country swept him to his first BBC award.

Drogba went on to score 37 goals in 40 games in the 2009/10 season for Chelsea, helping them to their first ever league-cup double.

Ivory Coast disappointed in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup, but Drogba made headlines playing with a cast on his broken arm, even scoring against Brazil.

Mohamed Aboutrika

Mohamed Aboutrika became the second member of the Egyptian team Al Ahly to win the BBC African Footballer of the Year competition, after Mohamed Barakat.

In 2008 Aboutrika scored four times for Egypt in the African Cup of Nations. With Aboutrika as one of the key players, Egypt won the competition for the second time in a row.

In the same year Al-Ahly won the CAF Champions League title for a record sixth time.

Aboutrika got the BBC award after taking more than half of the total ballot.

Emmanuel Adebayor

The Arsenal striker said he has more "tricks in his bag" for the fans who voted him winner for 2007.

During his first season with the Gunners he scored four goals in ten matches.

Adebayor also helped Togo qualify for the 2006 African Cup of Nations. He scored 11 times in the qualifiers - a record for the competition.

Adebayor later played for Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur.

Michael Essien

The Ghanaian footballer thanked the fans for voting because they see the game "much better than the players do".

He believes his performance during a "fantastic" season with Chelsea was the key factor in his favour.

At Chelsea, Essien helped the club win the Premier League twice, as well as three FA Cups and one Football League Cup.

Mohamed Barakat

Egypt and Al Ahly player Mohamed Barakat was the first Arabic player to win the BBC award.

Barakat's team, the Egyptian club Al Ahly, won the CAF Champions League in 2005 and 2006.

Al Ahly went undefeated for 55 consecutive matches in a row.

Barakat was also considered one of the key players of the African Cup of Nations in 2006.

Jay Jay Okocha

The veteran player said he "appreciated this more" because it is much harder to win an award like the AFOY in consecutive years.

He believes the African public continued to vote for him as his club, Bolton Wanderers, finished in top eight in the English Premier League.

In 2004 Okocha was also voted the Player of the tournament at the African Nations Cup in Tunisia.

Jay Jay Okocha

The Nigerian believes it was his hard work in keeping Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League that won him the accolade in 2003.

In a BBC interview he expressed the view that the massive pressure and the high expectations the fans had from him were the main factors that helped improve his performance on the pitch.

El Hadji Diouf

In 2002 Senegal caused a huge World Cup upset as they beat world champions France in the opening game of the tournament in Japan and South Korea.

They reached the quarter-finals with El Hadji Diouf emerging as their key player.

His performances earned him a big-money move to the English Premier League with Liverpool.

Diouf is still playing in the English Football League with Leeds United, after leaving Blackburn Rovers in 2011.

Samuel Kuffour

Ghana's Samuel Kuffuor clinched the award in 2001 after helping German club Bayern Munich win the European Champions League.

Kuffuor then scored the winning goal in the extra time of the Intercontinental Cup against the South American champs Boca Juniors.

Bayern were also crowned German champions for a third successive season in 2001.

Kuffuor was released by Dutch club Ajax in 2008 and later started a business in Accra.

Patrick Mboma

Patrick Mboma won an Olympic gold and the Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon in 2000 to see him clinch the BBC award as it changed from African Sports Star to African Footballer of the Year.

In February 2000, Cameroon won the Nations Cup by beating co-hosts Nigeria 4-3 on penalties after the game ended 2-2.

Then in September Mboma hit four goals for Cameroon as they won the Olympic gold in Sydney.

The striker was also plying his club trade at the highest level in Italy before moving to England and Japan.

He retired in 2005 and now splits his time between France and Cameroon.

Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu won the award for a second time in 1999 as he once again bounced back from a tough time to play at the highest level, when he was signed by English Premier League side Arsenal.

The lanky striker remained at Inter Milan for over two years following his heart surgery, but played just a handful of games for them.

Amongst the highlights in his first season with Arsenal was a 17-minute hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Chelsea.

Nwankwo Kanu

Another Nigerian won the prize in 1997 as Nwankwo Kanu returned from a major heart operation to play again for Italian club Inter Milan.

Kanu was diagnosed with a heart defect shortly after helping Nigeria win Olympic football gold in 1996 - he successfully underwent surgery in Ohio in the USA.

By April he had recovered sufficiently to return to action with Inter Milan and for the Super Eagles.

Kanu played at the highest level for English Premier League clubs Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth.

Emmanuel Amuneke

Emmanuel Amuneke scored the injury time winner for Nigeria as they came from behind to become the first ever African nation to win an Olympic football gold medal.

Amuneke's exploits caught the eye of Spanish giants Barcelona who signed him from Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon.

Amuneke, who runs his own football academy in Lagos, also works as an assistant coach of the under-17 Nigerian national team.

George Weah

The BBC award was just one of many that Liberia's George Weah won in 1995 along with the World, European and African Player of the Year awards.

Weah's performances not only earned him the awards but also a move from French club Paris St Germain to Italian giants AC Milan.

After he retired, Weah launched a political career. Despite loosing the 2005 presidential elections to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, he remained active in politics.

Zambia national team

Zambia''s national team claimed the prize in 1994 after they recovered from the devastating loss of 18 players in the 1993 plane crash off the cost of Gabon.

The rebuilt Chipolopolo side reached the final of the African Cup of Nations in Tunisia where they lost 2-1 to Nigeria.

It was Zambia's best ever placing at the Nations Cup.

Abedi Pele

Abedi Pele won the first ever BBC African Sports Star of the Year award in 1991 while he was playing for French Club Marseille.

In the same year he was also voted African Footballer of the Year by France Football magazine (the predecessor to the CAF award).

He helped Ghana reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal where they lost on penalties to the Ivory Coast - however he missed the game through suspension.

Abedi is now a businessman back home in Accra and owns a local football club, Narnia FC.