Seko Fofana: Lens and Ivory Coast player wins Marc Vivien Foe award

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Seko Fofana in action for LensSeko Fofana, who has won six caps for Ivory Coast, joined Lens from Italian club Udinese in 2020

Lens and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana has won the Marc Vivien Foe award, which is handed to the best African player in France's top flight.

The 27-year-old, who was once on the books of Manchester City, captains his club side and has scored eight goals in 37 appearances in Ligue 1 this season.

"It's a pride, a lot of recognition," the former Fulham player said.

"It was close to my heart to win this trophy because it's the Marc-Vivien Foe prize and it reminds me of a lot of things.

"The first time I went to a stadium was when I was young, with my dad. He took me to see the France team play against Turkey and the same day, we learned this sad news [Foe's death].

"So, when I saw that I was among the finalists, it was close to my heart to win this trophy and that's what happened."

Fofana won the award with 221 points ahead of Rennes and Mali captain Hamari Traore (91 points) while another Rennes defender Nayef Aguerd of Morocco finished third (77 points).

He succeeds Lens team-mate Gael Kakuta after the DR Congo forward won the award last season.

Fofana saw off the likes of Paris St-Germain and Morocco right-back Achraf Hakimi and Saint-Etienne and Tunisia midfielder Wahbi Khazri, who were among the 12 nominees.

The prize is named in honour of former Cameroon midfielder Foe, who died aged 28 after collapsing on the pitch during a game against Colombia in 2003.

The award is voted for by journalists from all branches of the media and is co-sponsored by Radio France Internationale (RFI) and TV news channel France 24.

Fofana has helped Lens to seventh place in the Ligue 1 table with one game of the campaign remaining, just two seasons after the club were promoted from the second tier.

The Paris-born player began his senior career at Manchester City but, following loan spells at Fulham and Bastia, left for Udinese in 2016 having not made a first-team appearance and then joined Lens in 2020.

He has won six caps for Ivory Coast, but was not part of the Elephants squad for this year's Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

France 24 described Fofana as "a sharp and decisive player" who has made himself "an indispensable player" for Lens.

Previous Marc-Vivien Foe award winners

  • 2021 - Gael Kakuta (DR Congo/Lens)
  • 2020 - Victor Osimhen (Nigeria/Lille)
  • 2019 - Nicholas Pepe (Ivory Coast/Lille)
  • 2018 - Karl Toko Ekambi (Cameroon/Angers)
  • 2017 - Jean Michael Seri (Ivory Coast/Nice)
  • 2016 - Sofiane Boufal (Morocco/Lille)
  • 2015 - Andre Ayew (Ghana/Marseille)
  • 2014 - Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria/Lille)
  • 2013 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Saint-Etienne)
  • 2012 - Younes Belhanda (Morocco/Montpellier)
  • 2011 - Gervinho (Ivory Coast/Lille)
  • 2010 - Gervinho (Ivory Coast/Lille)
  • 2009 - Marouane Chamakh (Morocco/Bordeaux)
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