Nicolas Pépé

Cote D’Ivoire and Lille forward Nicolas Pépé has won the 2019 Marc-Vivien Foe award for the best African player in France’s Ligue 1.

The 23-year-old won the prize ahead of Tunisia’s Whabi Khazri (Saint-Etienne) and Senegal’s Ismaila Sarr (Rennes).

Pépé is the third Ivorian winner of the award named in honour of Marc-Vivien Foe, who died after collapsing on the pitch in 2003.

He succeeds Cameroon and Angers forward Karl Toko Ekambi who won the prize last year.

“This is for the entire team after a great season,” Pépé told French radio station RFI, who organise the award with television station France 24.

The Ivorian scored 22 goals and provided 12 assists this season to become the fourth Lille player to win the prize, following in the footsteps of countryman Gervinho, Vincent Enyeama and Sofiane Boufal.

His impressive form this season helped Lille to second place in the French Ligue 1 table behind champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Back in October, Pépé became the first African player to win a French Ligue 1 player of the month award since Morocco’s Sofiane Boufal in April 2016.

Remarkably, he won again in February to join compatriots Didier Drogba (thrice) and Salomon Kalou (twice) on the list of Ivorians with multiple honours.

He has scored 35 goals in 77 matches for Lille, which he joined from Angers in July 2017.

Born in France to Ivorian parents, Pépé made his debut for the Elephants in a goalless friendly against France in November 2016.

He also scored on his last appearance for Cote D’Ivoire in March as they beat Rwanda 3-0 in their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Expected to feature at next month’s Nations Cup in Egypt, he has four goals in 11 appearances for the two-time African champions.

 

-BBC