Picture : Salif Keita with AS Saint-Etienne.

Pioneer CAF Golden Ball winner Salif Keita dies.

Mali’s legendary footballer, Salif Keita Traoré popularly known as Keita has died at 76. Winner of the pioneer edition of the African Footballer of the Year in 1970, Keita’s contribution to the growth of the African has been acknowledged by CAF boss, Patrice Motsepe who immediately reached out to the bereaved family following his demise September 2.

Salif Keita, a 1.76-m tall striker was born on 6 December 1946 in Bamako in the then French Sudan,  kicking off his football career with Réal Bamako (1963 – 1965), Stade Malien (1965 – 1966) and Réal Bamako (1966 – 1967). He moved to France in 1967 at the start of his professional career  which will see him score 242 goals in 414 games beginning with Saint Etienne (1967 – 1972) and Marseille (1972 – 1973). He later joined Valencia of Italy (1973 – 1976), Sporting CP of Portugal (1976 – 1979) and the defunct New England Tea Men of the USA (1979 – 1980).

On his death, Salif Keita is also credited with the creation of the first training centre for professional football players in Mali which bears his name. He was appointed minister-delegate to his country’s Prime Minister in 2007.